Slow Reads: The Color Purple Week 5

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


The book came to its crescendo this week and it brought a tear to my eye. All the misery that it caused so far only served to strengthen the hopeful note that it ended on.

Redemption was the theme of the week for sure. Harpo and Sofia reconciled, as did Celie and Mr —-. There was even a small amount of redemption for the white child that Sofia acted as a nanny for. Celie’s Pa (or technically step-pa) even left her his house when he died (although not of his free will, so I guess he remained as twisted as he started – no redemption for him). However, the best part of these redemptions were they didn’t feel forced in any way, nor did the new nature of the relationships ignore all the history of the characters. Mr —- asked Celie to marry him again, this time in spirit as well, but she turned him down. It was a credit to how far she’d come.

The scathing rebuke of colonialism continued. This time the book paints the missionaries as complicit in the atrocities committed. It has really got me questioning the ignorance of society today, and whether the reason we still look down on Africa is because we never really excepted culpability for colonialism as a nation. It definitely places this book as extremely relevant today.

The exploration of what religion means to different people also continued. The way the Olinka people appropriated the missionaries teachings and slotted them with ease into their own world view was particularly interesting. Their ideas about how Adam was not the first man, but the first white man was especially noteworthy in my eyes. The books comments on the whiteness of Christianity was not something I’ve ever considered before.

Shug left Celie for a while this week, to have a fling with a much younger man. I felt like this symbolized the last stage in Celie’s journey to independence. She relied on Shug to become a strong woman, and now she is able to function without her. I think it also really brought Celie’s sexuality to the fore, since, while Shug still likes men, she only has an eye for women.

The final piece of the puzzle this week was Miss Eleanor Jane. She embodied the well-meaning yet naive white person. In my eyes, the personification of white ignorance, which is still prevalent today, if to a lesser extent. Her relationship with, and need to be valued by, Sofia was very reminiscent of the dependence on black caregivers detailed in The Help.

Having reached the end of the first book in the ‘Slow Reads’ experiment, I must say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I hope you have too. The Color Purple was a really tough read in places, but being able to break down a section every week was a very rewarding experience, which I think amplified its messages for me. let me know what you’ve thought about the book or the series of posts as a whole.

Join me next week when I begin to discuss The Catcher In The Rye. Luckily this book has chapters, so it should be much easier to follow. I’m going to read chapters 1 to 6 for next Friday.

Slow Reads: The Color Purple Week 4

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


I know I’m late again this week. I feel really bad about it, but preparing for my interview is more important in my eyes. However, that shouldn’t be a problem for next week at least.

This week’s section started off with a scathing criticism of British colonialism. It was such an uncomfortable topic that, I am ashamed to say, I had to put the book down for a bit afterwards. It is extremely disturbing to think about what Britain’s current position in the world was built upon, but even more so that some people see no problem with it.

I was not expecting the twist at all. Celie’s Pa is not her biological father, because he was lynched for having a business that was too profitable. I’m still not sure why he brought up two daughters who weren’t his, considering he doesn’t seem to have an altruistic bone in his body. This news also changes how I view the rape and abuse from the very beginning of the book. In some ways it reduces the shock, since there is no incest. On the other hand, it makes this man seem more like a predator, since he took advantage of girls that he brought up like his own daughters.

The other disturbing reality that came out of this is that to survive, black people had to play the game. Pa is only able to have a profitable business because he makes sure that he gives about a third of his profits to white people. Slavery might have ended, but black people still fear for their lives if they don’t put money in the hands of white folk. I think the most horrifying part of the whole exchange, though, was the nonchalance with which Pa accepted this fate.

However, despite all the horrors that came this week, there was hope too. Celie stood up for herself, challenging Mr —— and proving his weakness to everyone around. The transformation happened subtly, but Celie now feels like a real person, with her own thoughts and opinions. Most of all, she seems happy. It seems that Mr —– hiding Nessie’s letters was the final straw.

During Celie’s self-exploration, she tackles what it means to be religious. She feels God has abandoned her, but Shug opens her eyes to the idea that God is all around. That she doesn’t need to be in a church, singing hymns to find him. Also, that God doesn’t need to be male, or white. It is a very radical idea for that time period, but I think it helps Celie to find inner peace. She now appreciates the little things in life, like the wildflowers in a field, or the colour purple.

The very end of this week’s extract saw Harpo and Sofia arguing about whether half of the pallbearers carrying Sofia’s mother could be women. I feel this set a hopeful tone for the future, since no-one even bat an eyelid at the funeral. The contrast between this small moment of progress and the other horrors was stark, but I think we might see this hopeful note continue to the end of the book. It was also a moment of revitalization for Sofia, as it felt she was making strides back towards her old, determined self (another moment of hope)

I’m going to finish the book next week. This also means that I need to start thinking about the next book for Slow Reads. I’m thinking of reading Catcher In The Rye or Grapes Of Wrath, but I’m open to other suggestions. Let me know what you would like.

Do you think this hopeful tone will last? Will Celie ever see Nessie again? Have you been just as horrified as I have? See you back here again next week.

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).

Weekly Preview 22/11/20

Hello everyone! Hope you’ve had a great week. I’ve absolutely been loving having an e-reader, which I got for my birthday on Monday. My school has also requested that all of year 13 stay home due to COVID cases being found in the school. This is great for my personal learning, because I haven’t been in school since March, and I now get my lessons online.

On the other hand, it does mean that my upcoming mocks in January might be my actual grades if the government cancels exams again, so I need to ace them. This means more revision and less time for reading. I’m going to try to still review 2-3 books a week, but you’ll know why if I don’t achieve that.

The past week has been another good one in terms of reviews. I posted articles on We, Sapiens and Synthetic Selection, as well as the next week of my review of The Color Purple.

At the moment I’m in the middle of both The Priory Of The Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon and Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig. Longtime followers will know how much I love Wendig’s stuff, and once again he hasn’t disappointed. I’m also loving Priory because one of my absolute favourite genres in court intrigue.

I still want to read Pompeii, but I’ve been distracted by other books so far. I’m not sure I’ll get to it this week either, but I’m going to try.

Stay safe and keep reading!

Slow Reads: The Color Purple Week 2

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


The horrific acts have continued this week, but the constant bombardment of atrocities are making me more numb to them. Perhaps this is purposeful, so that I can empathize better with Celie.

I want to start with Sofia, because the misfortune that befell her struck me hardest. She got 12 years in prison for refusing to work for the mayor’s wife as a maid, and then punching the mayor after he struck her first. Then she got out on good behaviour to work for the mayor’s wife anyway. The utter injustice of this really gets to me. What’s saddest is that Sofia is a strong woman brought low for being strong. While she is in prison, she needs to act passive and emulated Celie to survive. This just reinforces societal expectations.

Meanwhile, Celie is slowly starting to become her own woman finally. Shug is helping her discover her own femininity, and it’s touching to see. I think Celie is jealous of Shug’s carefree nature, and wants to be just like her, while still being too timid to achieve that aim.

Likewise, Shug is branded a whore for being able to stick up for herself, and while she might have a rough exterior, she is still caring, much more so than those who call her a whore. She is protective of Celie, and will not move out until she knows Mr —– won’t beat her when she leaves. However, I’m skeptical that Grady will be good for her. We’ll see where it goes.

Harpo has also undergone interesting developments this week. I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him, since Sofia moved out. He wants to be the man society asks him to be, but is torn because he knows that person isn’t a decent human. That person also costs him his wife, who he clearly still loves more than his current girlfriend, Squeak. I’m expecting him to become more like his father, Mr —–, as time goes on, and to prey upon the weaker Squeak, who won’t have the power to leave him once she is pregnant. I really hope I’m wrong though, because this would be a terrible way for him to go.

I’m also holding out hope that Nessie is still alive, since she has been referenced a couple more times this week, but I’m less hopeful than last week.

For next week, I’m reading to page 151 in my copy, ending just before ‘Dearest Celie, I meant to write you in time for Easter…’.

Let me know how you’re finding this week’s section. What affected you the most? Do you think Grady is trouble? Is Nessie still alive? Is there hope for Celie to find herself with Shug’s help? Also, let me know what you think about these articles. Are there any improvements you’d like to see?

Slow Reads: The Color Purple Week 1

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


Wow. I was expecting the book to be heavy, but not this heavy. Celie, the main character, is literally raped by her step-father on the first page, and that sets the tone for the rest of the book. I can’t help but feel such sympathy for the trials and tribulations she has had to go through already in the first 50 pages.

The first thing I noticed was the conscious choice by Alice Walker to often use phonetic spellings and short sentences. This was a constant reminder that Celie had minimal education, sharply contrasting the lives of most Western children today. Yet, despite her lack of schooling, she still has a kind heart, which causes me to remember that being educated doesn’t necessarily make you a good person. The phonetic spellings also cause me to read at a slower pace than usual, as I had to decipher the meanings sometimes. This slower reading allowed for the force of each scene to sink in to a greater extent I think.

So far, all the men have remained nameless (excluding Harpo – but he’s not like the rest). I take this to mean that the atrocities committed so far are not exceptions, but normality, and that the men are interchangeable. It could also be that Celie thinks so lowly of them that she doesn’t think it’s worth writing their names, but I’m less inclined to this idea since she has not stood up to any of them so far at any point.

The first thing that made me root for Celie was when she consistently sacrificed herself for her sister Nettie. While this fiercely protective streak seems to have been ground out of her after Nettie disappeared, I’m hoping it will reemerge soon. It was heartbreaking when she said that she doesn’t feel anymore, implying the only way she could survive was to smother her soul. I’m also hoping that Nettie isn’t dead, as Celie believes, but has found a happy life somehow. She had such potential and it’s painful to imagine that wasted after everything Celie gave up to protect her.

Harpo and Sofia’s story has been interesting so far. Harpo has some of the cruel traits of his father, but he seems to be a decent person nevertheless. It feels more like he has been modelled a type of behaviour by the other men in society, but it doesn’t suit him. I’m hoping he stays happy and kind and in love, but I’m not hopeful. It just feels like tragedy is coming around the corner. Sofia is a stark contrast to Celie, being a strong woman who has fought all her life instead of giving in. Life might have made them both hard, but they have reacted in different ways.

Shug Avery is a fascinating character, and it’ll be interesting to see how she develops. So far, she is the only thing that Mr ——- seems to care about, yet it doesn’t seem like she cares for him, just uses him. Definitely a source of conflict brewing. It also seems she is disrespected within the town because she is a strong woman who won’t bow to the cultural norms. I feel she has a larger part to play.

I’m sure that Olivia is going to have a bigger role in the story, but I’m not sure what it is. Likewise, I think the mystery surrounding Mr —— previous wife will be further uncovered. So far, it’s been a black mark upon many of the characters who had no way of preventing it.

My biggest takeaway this week has been the way that the women have been treated like property. Celie’s Pa took both her children as if they were nothing more than inanimate objects. Harpo assumed that Sofia would love him before he even spoke to her, as if he was entitled to her because he was a guy. Mr ——- has Celie working in the field for him as if she was a slave. It’s all been horrifying, and it’s even more horrifying to think that this brutality actually went unchecked for years.

If your following along with me, I’m reading to page 100 in my copy of the book, which is just before ‘Dear God, Mr ——- drink all through Christmas. Him and Grady. Me and Shug cook, talk, clean the house, talk, fix up the tree, talk, wake up in the morning, talk.’

What have your impressions been so far? Who’s your favourite character? How are you finding the brutal portrayal? or the phonetic spellings? Hopefully I’ll see you back here next week.

Weekly Preview 8/11/20

Hi everyone. Hopefully you’ve had a good week. I haven’t got through as much reading as I would have liked this week, as I’ve been distracted by the US election. However, I did review Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and Wasteland last week.

I only got partway through We this week, and I’m hoping to finish it in the next few days. I also read Jonah as a second book for the #RRABC, and should have a review written for Tuesday.

I’m also taking a deep dive into the first part of The Color Purple on Friday as part of my new weekly post Slow Reads. Use the link if you’re interested to learn more about it.

Looking to what else I might read this week, I’m thinking of starting Pompeii by Robert Harris since I liked Imperium so much. Hopefully I’ll get the time.

Let me know your plans for the week.

~Rickettts

Slow Reads: The Color Purple Week 0

Hi everyone. This is the new weekly post I mentioned I was working on recently. The idea 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.

The first book I’ve picked is The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I picked it because it’s supposed to be a classic, which I’m hoping will make it easy to find, and because it is relatively short. Beyond that, I think that the themes of race are very relevant right now, and will be interesting to dissect.

I have discovered that the book doesn’t have chapters, which does make things slightly more awkward when planning how far to read in a week. Therefore, I plan to read the first 50 pages in my copy of the book, which ends with ‘I been scared, he say. Scared. And he cover up his eyes with his hands’, for this time next week.

Let me know what you think of the idea, and if you have any questions about how it works. Hopefully I’ll see you back here next week!

~Rickettts