THE COLOR PURPLE (New York: Simon & Schuster via Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982),

Reading Alice Walker’s epistolary The Color Purple, the reader encounters Alice’s unique writing style where she demonstrates an oratory skill retelling the story from third party letters- if you will. What is interesting though, it’s not really a third party story, it’s her story, a story she has created and therefore retains the liberty to retell it in whichever form or fashion. This said, her writing is noble, with tones of liberation, womanist and sisterism being loosely introduced. The question that a keen reader will not fail to ask is “why does she (Alice Walker) delight in narrating sexual encounters with such candor?” Alice, the author and medium (as she later describes herself), does not spare words in narrating Celie’s sexual encounters when being abused by her dad and later her husband, or in her own pursuit. This only causes disconcert and confuses the view (of God) being portrayed.

Celie views God as “big and old and tall and graybeareded and white” (Walker, 201), which to her defines God as protective (big and tall), wise and trustworthy (old and graybearded), and reverent (white). When she (Celie) therefore fails to find a person she can talk to, since the only person she could talk to, her mammy, is sickly and she’s already been warned; “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy” (Walker, 1), she obediently turns to; the protective, wise and trustworthy, and respectful, God.

This is the God she perceives, in her mind, as she writes letters to him. She can trust him, she can ask him all she wants to know, she can narrate her experiences and trust him to tell her what is happening to her. This is what she does in her first letter, at the age of fourteen years, when she knows very little about her physiological changes, when she tells God in the letter; “I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me” (Walker, 1). To my mind this is what sets the pace for the preceding letters.

Celie finds her freedom in being candid and unambiguous communicating to God; peradventure he will tell her what is happening to her.

So much has happened to her and she never had anyone to ask what it was. But she trusted God, it was easy to write to him probably because he was not physically there. But the view she had of God was enough for her to trust him.

The letters she writes then, are confidential literature, meant for God’s reading eye’s only. We the readers have, through Alice Walker, been given that sneak preview, through the narrations-a privilege opportunity to read and understand what Celie was going through – we cannot therefore judge them as graphic narrations.


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