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I like big books.

The Color Purple

The Color Purple - Alice Walker I hardly know where to begin with this one. The sheer complexity involved in the telling of this story in epistolary form, with all the intricacies of the relationships between the characters, building two developing storylines that overlap, and developing characters we both despise with every fiber of our being and love and sympathize with is mind boggling...
and we haven't even talked about the story itself yet! Walker parallels the lives of women both in America in the Jim Crow South and in Africa and finds much in common with respect to societal and cultural attitudes towards gender, sexuality, and family. The universality of some of the themes and experiences of Nettie and Celie remind us of how similar we are, how petty we all can be, and how evil. There is no more satisfying a feeling for me as a reader to see a character given what he/she deserves. You really root for Celie through the whole novel and when she finally stands up for herself and threatens to kill her tormenter Mr. , and when her hopes are finally vindicated in the return of her family you really feel elated and more hopeful about the world itself. This one goes on my favorites shelf for sure.

I don't know if I could read it again though, to be honest. The darkness in the novel is really overwhelming in spite of how Celie overcomes it. As an educator, especially in the field of history, though, I feel like this should be required reading for American and World History whenever the subject of racism/imperialism are brought up. I'm going to find a way to incorporate this, or at least part of it, next year. Because most high school history texts treat these issues with a detatched, nonchalant discussion before simply moving on to the next major event in chronological order without a backward glance, I've always felt the need to supplement. Somehow nothing I've used so far has captured students' attention or outraged them beyond, "Gee that sucks." I'm hoping this might be the one thing that will help them empathize, and maybe spark their interest in the world's present circumstance.

Wow, now I know I'm still not over my cold completely.....