Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Color Purple Check In..

For those who don't know The Color Purple by Alice Walker is our September Group Read selection. If you want to join along you are more than welcome! Those who participate in discussions and/or guest post get the opportunity to be entered into a free copy of October's Group Selection!

Who has started? I just got my copy from the library today. ::hangs head::: Whoops. The cover of the copy I have is beautiful. I am going to start it later this afternoon.

Taken from SparkNotes :::shhh::: here is some context to think about as you read..

Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944, in the small rural town of Eatonton, Georgia. She was the eighth and last child of Willie Lee Walker and Minnie Tallulah Grant, two sharecroppers. Walker’s parents’ experiences with the oppressive sharecropping system and the racism of the American South deeply influenced Walker’s writing and life’s work. When Walker was eight, one of her brothers accidentally shot her, permanently blinding her in one eye. Ashamed of her facial disfigurement, Walker isolated herself from other children, reading and writing to pass the time.

I can't imagine having a sibling accidentally shoot me?? Yikes. The amount of guilt that her brother must have felt! And I can't imagine how it must have felt to have a facial disfigurement when you are already being singled out by the color of your skin!

In 1961, on a scholarship for disabled students, Walker enrolled in Spelman College in Atlanta, where she became active in the A-frican-American civil rights movement. Two years later, Walker transferred to Sarah Lawrence College in New York and eventually traveled to Uganda as an exchange student. When she returned for her senior year, Walker was shocked to learn that she was pregnant, and, afraid of her parents’ reaction, she considered suicide. However, a classmate helped Walker obtain a safe abortion, and she graduated from Sarah Lawrence in 1965. At this time, Walker composed two early landmark pieces: “To Hell with Dying,” her first published short story, and Once: Poems, her first volume of poetry.

Who says SparkNotes is bad. I did not know this before. Wow, I can really feel for her. It's hard to imagine being single and pregnant in modern times but pre Roe v. Wade I really have no idea how hard that must have been. The thought that if the abortion wasn't safe that you could die or never be able to have children must have been terrifying.

Upon its publication, The Color Purple unleashed a storm of controversy. It instigated heated debates about black cultural representation, as a number of male African-American critics complained that the novel reaffirmed old racist stereotypes about pathology in black communities and of black men in particular. Critics also charged Walker with focusing heavily on sexism at the expense of addressing notions of racism in America. Nonetheless, The Color Purple also had its ardent supporters, especially among black women and others who praised the novel as a feminist fable. The heated disputes surrounding The Color Purple are a testimony to the resounding effects the work has had on cultural and racial discourse in the United States.

For those of you who have started, what do you think of the way black males are portrayed? Do you think it re affirms stereotypes or does it hold true?

Do you think some people claim some things are stereotypes but in reality they are unpleasant truths about a certain group?

Let me know your thoughts!


Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I started and it first it was REALLY hard to get used to the language. I was plotting how i was going to tell everyone I gave up on my own suggestion. But I'm really getting used to it. I'm still not far in, but it's good.

Black males are definitely portrayed in a negative way, but hey- that's the author's choice/opinion, that's how she chose to write the book!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I have not started it... I haven't gotten my copy from the library yet unfortunately! Hope it comes in soon!

i read it in high school but have such a vague memory of it!!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

@ Kelly haha I am laughing at 'plotting how i was going to tell everyone i gave up on my own suggestion." too funny. i am like on page 5 and I just got the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach like i hate you man.

Tameka said...

Ladies,stick with it! It is seriously one of my favorite books ever! The language is so hard in the beginning but as you get used to the rhythm and the pace of it, it gets much easier! I saw the movie first when I was around 8 or so and I think that helped me a lot. It is seriously such a moving powerful story, I think you'll enjoy it!

As to the stereotype question, yes I think the stereotype of Black men being violent towards women is prevalent in this book, but I also look at the context of the violence as well. I love the book because it doesn't sugarcoat anything, you feel everything Celie is going through as an abused woman. Not only abused by society because of her race/class, but abused by her husband simply because he can. It's such a powerful statement.

Ok I've rambled on enough now, but I hope you all continue to read it and eventually love it. I've read it a bunch of times over and it continues to teach me something each time.