Slow Reads: The Color Purple Week 3

The idea for this recurring posts is to read a book over the course of 4-6 weeks, and each week to delve deeply into what has been read the previous week. This will allow for a more interesting analysis of the meaning of the book, and allow me to make predictions, in a way that isn’t possible with book reviews. Reading over a number of weeks also lets you read along at home at the same time, which will hopefully enrich the discussion.

Spoiler warning obviously


First, I quickly want to apologise for the late post. Things have been a bit crazy here, and life has gotten in the way. But, as they say, better late than never.

Nessie’s alive after all! I thought the author was planting something by referencing her often. However, I absolutely was not expecting her to be with Olivia. I thought that Olivia would reappear later, but not in this way.

So Nessie has been taken in by missionaries, and has been in Africa for at least 5 years. This was quite a twist and change of pace to the book. There is now an exploration of a woman’s place and purpose in life. I think this quote perfectly summed up the native African’s views on gender: ‘A girl is nothing to herself; only to her husband can she become something’. This contrasts some of the lives of black women back in America, like that of Shug, but is scarily similar to some of the thought processes there. Celie is treated like the property of her paternal figure, or should I say mistreated. The irony is that the missionaries have gone to Africa to ‘civilize’ the locals with Christianity, yet the Christian’s back in the US are just as bad, if not worse.

A girl is nothing to herself; only to her husband can she become something

– Olinka Mother

The relationship between Celie and Shug also deepened even further this week. I think Celie’s continued exploration of sexuality with Shug will continue to boost her confidence. She is learning that she has value as a human being, and that value doesn’t depend on her man. I’m hoping she’ll walk out on her husband by the end of the book. However, I think that their relationship is just as important to Shug as it is to Celie. I think Shug has never had another female friend like Celie, as we see when she spills her heart to her. It seems that because Shug wanted the attention of men, she was scorned by women, and so she cut herself off from them as a defense mechanism.

We also got more information about Mr —— this week from Shug. He wasn’t always so cruel, or if he was, he hid it well. Honestly, I almost felt sorry for him, as I tried to absolve him of his guilt. Blame his father and his brother for condemning the women he loved. Blame society for it’s patriarchal nature. But that’s wrong in my eyes. The more I think about it, he is a twisted man. Sure, he faced some hardships, but he crumbled under there wait. Like Shug says, he’s weak. Meanwhile, Celie had to face much, much worse, and she is still a decent person.

For next week, I’m reading to page 200 in my copy, ending at ‘They act like this the way it always done. I love folks. Amen’.

There wasn’t much about the other characters this week, but let me know if I missed something. Did you expect Nessie to still be alive? Is Mr —– to blame, or is something else at fault? What do you think of the messages about race and gender? Hope to see you back here next week (and hopefully I’ll get the post finished for Friday this time).

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