I’m sure you’ve all heard about this novel and that many of you have already read it yourselves. In fact I don’t really think that I have a lot to add to the conversation about this book. It is beloved and for good reason. It has been produced as a movie and a musical. I’m pretty sure the The Color Purple movie has some break out roles and I think one of them was Oprah??? Like, come on, you know people of great thought and care have discussed this book in nuanced ways that I just cannot compete with. But I will add my perspective just for the lawls.
Celie and Nettie are sisters and their love is deep and real. Even when separated, their love for their sister never wanes. Celie is the main character in this novel. Her sister and another character, Shug, play an important, vital, and prominent second role. Celie has suffered a lot of abuse in her life. Starting from her father and including her husband. Her husband’s abusive and aggressive nature is considered a natural, normal, expected part of life. Celie puts up with it because she must. But everything changes once Shug enters her life.
With Shug she sees a different side to her husband. An attentive, caring side that he rarely shows her. Shug teaches her about standing up for herself, loving herself, and also how to be loved physically. Shug and Celie form an intense bond and relationship and the two make love. They don’t consider themselves wrong or dirty or violating God’s will. Celie sees it as connecting to something within her and connecting more intimately with Shug. It’s not until Celie finds out that her sister has been writing her all these years and that those precious letters were kept from her, that Celie begins to take ownership.
Nettie has been faithfully writing to her sister over the years. She is on a mission with her church to bring christianity to Africa and she talks about the life she is living and the people she is living with. She shares everything with Celie and her love for her sister never wavers. Upon reading these letters, Celie (who had been writing to God up to this point in the book) starts writing letters back to Nettie. She shares her pain, her worries, her comments on life and the people within hers.
When i first heard about this novel, I didn’t know that it was queer. In fact, whenever anybody spoke about it they would always talk about how groundbreaking it was in terms of its content on sexual and domestic abuse. They talked about how well written it is and the life it depicted and how sad and hopeful the story is. Not once did I ever hear it described as groundbreaking or its representation in terms of queerness. But that’s what it is, that is also what it is so why are people not mentioning that? Maybe it was just in the time that I was growing up versus now and the country’s relationship with homosexuals and queer identities. Maybe people were saying that, but didn’t think it was a selling point to other people. I do know that the Goodreads review doesn’t mention the fact that Celie and Shug are queer. I don’t know, but I am glad that I’m seeing other people talk about how it is queer, about queer women, queer love.