The color purple
Over the years, The Color Purple by Alice Walker has been the subject of intense opposition. Throughout the world, critics have different opinions about the value of this novel. Some people claim that it is the best book they have ever read as it develops the important themes of religion, racism, sexism, disruption of traditional gender roles, and sisterhood. However, some critics dislike this book because it presents the negative portrait of black men and the black family. Consequently, the novel promotes racial stereotypes and hatred towards men. The paper provides positive and negative feedback on the novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker and shows my personal opinion of the book.
Harriss Criticism About the Book
After the publication of The Color Purple, many critics have begun discussing its reception and canonicity. In her provocative review On The Color Purple, Stereotypes, and Silence, Trudier Harris claims that the novel should not have been canonized . The pendulum of readers preferences has swung in black writers favor and this is the only reason for Alice Walkers recognition. Harries states that the popularity of the book has a detrimental effect as it has created a cadre of spectator readers who neither feel nor share the main characters pain and observe the events as a circus of black human interactions. Moreover, the novel promotes racial stereotypes. Harris believes that the abuse, cruelty, and dehumanization documented by the main character make readers negatively think about black people.
Harris doubts the plausibility of Celies behavior, especially during her living with a stepfather. It is difficult to imagine Celie existing in any black community as no woman would play the victim and endure physical and sexual abuse. Harris also states that The Color Purple lacks morality because it supports the idea that human degradation is justified if a person endures and survives the tortures inflicted on him/her. The book neither describes nor praises autonomy, dignity, and the feeling of self-esteem.
One more weakness of the book is Netties letters from Africa that are extraneous to the central problem of the story. Harris states that the letters written as monologs on African history are intrusive because they are not connected with the main events. Moreover, Nettie describes the negative attitude of the men of the Olinka tribe towards their women. Consequently, the letters emphasize female oppression and promote hatred for men.
Read also: "Course Essay Online Writing"
LaGrones Criticism About the Book
In the book Alice Walkers The Color Purple, LaGrone states that when he first read The Color Purple, he was greatly impressed and thought that the novel was about personal transformation and spiritual strength. LaGrone confesses that the book has become his inspiration and anthem. The main character Celie is the reason why he likes the story. In her novel, Alice Walker depicts an unordinary girl who differs from other people. Celie is black, ugly, uneducated, and poor. Moreover, the fact that she is a lesbian really amazes readers. What attracts LaGrone is that the girl never abandons hope and always fights against adversity. There is nobody to defend her; therefore, she does it herself. Every misfortune makes Celie stronger. Throughout the book, readers see a transformation from a weak personality into an independent and strong-willed woman. Her example shows that a person can discover his/her selfhood and free his/her spirit from the bondage if he/she is strong enough. Consequently, a person should never despair and lose hope.
LaGrone appreciates the book as the author honestly depicts the life of black people in the 1930s. Readers plunge into the atmosphere of that time and see ordinary black and white people with their racial prejudices. The author gives readers an opportunity to learn the truth about the difficult life of black women and injustices they suffered.
Although many readers enjoy the novel, there are some people who call it maudlin. LaGrone says that such critics claim that Celies victimhood is contrived and too extreme; therefore, it is difficult to believe in her fantastical transformation. Furthermore, they do not like that The Color Purple depicts black masculinity in a negative way. Such depiction offends both women and men very much because people are not the same. Literary critics attack the book and say that the authors biography greatly influenced it. They accuse Walker of hating black men since she was a bisexual and her personal life had a tremendous impact on the way she portrayed men. The whole book shows Celies abuse by black men. As a result, American racism, which makes the main character experience many difficulties, is overshadowed by the focus on black male abuse. Critics prove this statement using Sofias example. Walker pays little attention to the fact that the white mayor does physical harm to this woman while his wife emotionally abuses her. Before the physical attack, Sofia has been very bright and strong personality. However, this action changes the situation. The physical and emotional abuse affects not only the woman but also her children who discover their low places in American society. Alice Walker ignores crimes committed by whites against black women and emphasizes negative qualities of black men. At the beginning, LaGrone does not support critics point of view and states that he thinks that the story is just a fiction and does not reveal Walkers perspective on reality. However, LaGrone discusses with his friend the accusations that Walker depicts black men in a negative way and discovers that the novel reflects black men that his friend has grown up with. Moreover, his friend likes the book for its truth. Nevertheless, many black men feel offended after reading The Color Purple. In his book, LaGrone provides an interview with David Bradley who met Alice Walker and spent some time talking with her. Bradley says that the author feels animosity towards black men. Later, Walker confessed that her father and brother had not given her men models she could admire and respect.
LaGrone also gives examples of some critics who accuse the author of promoting lesbian love and believe that such kind of love is a panacea for unhappiness caused by heterosexual relationship. However, LaGrone claims that these critics demonstrate their ignorance of homosexuality and understand the role of homosexuality in the novel in the wrong way. LaGrone explains that Celie is sexually aroused when she meets Shug for the first time. Consequently, the main character does not have the sexual interest in her husband because, repressed or not, she wants to have sex with a woman. LaGrone says that lesbian sexual feelings may not be just a reaction to men. Therefore, Walker does not promote lesbian love as a remedy for a failed heterosexual relationship.
My Personal Opinion of the Book
After reading The Color Purple, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, the novel is great as it depicts the hard life of the main characters and their struggle for freedom and happiness. Whom I like most is Celie who learns to be strong and bears immense hardship. It is impossible to imagine how much pain the main character suffers. Since adolescence, she faces cruelty and sexual abuse. Although Celie does not do anything to change the situation and obeys her stepfather, I cannot call her weak. In her place, the majority of women would commit a suicide to stop the tortures. However, the main character lives on because she never abandons hope and believes that the situation will improve. Moreover, I like the choice of the narration style in the book. The Color Purple comprises the letters written mainly by Celia that force intimate identification with her. The readers do not feel the presence of the author in the book; therefore, this makes the story true and believable.
On the other hand, I support critics who say that the novel offends many black men. After reading the book, it seems to me that the author hates men because she portrays them in a negative way and blames for all hardships Celie experiences. The novel is full of feminist issues and ideas. The message of the book is that women should unite to fight for justice and equality. However, I believe that not men are so cruel and atrocious as Walker depicts them. After reading The Color Purple,many women may leave their husbands or spoil the relationship with them due to such negative portrayal of men in the book.
There are different opinions about the novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Some critics believe that everyone should read the book as it teaches people to be strong and not to despair. Moreover, it gives an opportunity to discover the real life of black women and immense hardship they endured. However, there are some people who criticize the novel for its negative depiction of black men and promotion of feminist ideas. Nevertheless, I like this book because it shows a strong-willed personality who does not abandon hope despite many difficulties.