The Color Purple Readalong – Wrap Up Post

Winner of the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, this unforgettable portrait of a young black girl, her friends, family, and lovers is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life. – Goodreads

The month of July is coming to  a close and with it comes the end of our reading of The Color Purple.  How did you make out?

Heather from Age 30+…A Lifetime of Books contributed a post of great discussion questions mid-month.  I also posted the  trailer that they used for the movie.  I found it poking around online. Check out Heather’s follow up review post where she answers a few questions.  I chose a few that she didn’t get to, to answer here.

Please be aware that if you haven’t read the book, the answers below will include spoilers.

What was your perception of this book coming into the read-a-long? Had you read it before? Seen the movie? Always meant to read/watch it? Did your initial perception influence your read-a-long experience?

I had never read The Color Purple before, though I have thought about reading it for many years.  I had never heard anything less than wonderful about this book and it seemed like one of those books that I “should” have read.  I had never seen the movie, so I didn’t have that to influence me.  I thought that I remembered there had been controversy that had surrounded the book when it first came out, but when I looked it up I saw that the original publication date was 1982.  I was way too young to have remembered that.  Odd.

For new readers: Was the book what you expected it to be? What DID you expect?

I didn’t have that many expectations other than it being an amazing novel, which is tough to live up to, and it being a sad novel.  There is definitely a lot that goes on that is heartbreaking.  Celie is a wonderful character and I was so touched by her innocent acceptance of her sexual abuse and traumatic marriage, how she gradually gained knowledge and transformed her circumstances. Through Celie’s and Nettie’s letters the novel bears witness to hope, compassion, heartbreak, and unconditional love.  The book was a lot more uplifting than I ever imagined it would be. Celie’s conditions were particularly grim, and I hated the way she always thought she was ugly and not worthwhile, but her change was so absorbing.  I really appreciated how she was able to grow by continually making the best of her situation and learning where she could.

Do Celie’s letters to God and her letters to Nettie have a different feel to them or do they seem the same? What do you think of Celie’s habit of ending her letters to Nettie with “Amen”?

Celie started writing to Nettie at a time when she was going through profound change and that she had broken with her tradition and her God was an amazing change.  I saw the “amen” at the end of her letters as an affirmation of the new life that she is beginning to beuild for herself when she slowlsy starts to come out of her shell and put some distance in her marriage to her husband.  I think that a lot more goes into the change from writing to God to writing to Nettie.  Celie is beginning to take more personal responsibility for her life.  I would love to do a re-read at some point to get more out of that transformation.  A lot is there.

Is the story believable to you? Why or why not? Does believability matter to you in a “real-life” type book?

This novel is definitely believable to me. It was beautifully told and it accurately portrayed how limited the lives of the characters were, yet the seeds of how they were characterized played a role in the outcomes of their lives and relationships.  We often think that we have to leave difficult circumstances in order to overcome them, but Celie and a lot of the people by whom she is surrounded are not only poor but poorly educated and with partners whom it is not possible for them to leave.  They didn’t have vacations, or high powered jobs to distract them from life’s problems, nor did they have friends beyond the little circle already in their lives.  I was inspired by the characters growth and accomplishments in spite of not having access to much relief from their situations.

So what did you think?  I definitely think that this a great book to read and ponder.  I have loved thinking about it this month.  Feel free to leave your final thoughts and comments about The Color Purple in the comments sections, and don’t forget to link up to any reviews or discussion posts you have written, old or new.  Heather and I are looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


Whether this was your first time reading this novel, or if you are revisiting it I’d like to thank you for joining Heather and me!

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