Some Thoughts on The Color Purple

A Postscript to Adam’s Big Think #2

By Adam Katz

First of all, what an awesome book. I find it interesting when an author goes all in on accents and dialects, as if to demonstrate that it can be done without compromising the respect the reader owes the characters. As if to say: it’s not how a person speaks that should determine what you think of them. No. It’s what they say. Or maybe as if to say: this is standard English. Just not for you.

It’s also a textbook of intersectionality in the ways that it shows hierarchical structures within a minority group that make life difficult women and queer people. There is also the way in which sexism its black women and white women differently throughout the–

Sorry that’s not really what I came here to say… I just… I really need someone to talk about that book with. If you are such a person, hit me up in the comments section.

Time is a factor.

No, what I came here to talk about is that I finished writing my Big Think on Sunday night (June 13) or thereabouts, I posted it Monday, then I finished reading The Color Purple. And Albert’s character-arc is almost exactly what I was talking about in my Big Think. There is this line that particularly struck me:

“…look like he trying to make something out of himself. I don’t mean just that he work and he clean up after himself and he appreciate some of the things God was playful enough to make. I mean when you talk to him now he really listen, and one time, out of nowhere in the conversation us was having, he said Celie, I’m satisfied this the first time I ever lived on Earth as a natural man. It feel like a new experience” (122).

I was tickled that the first thing he does as a natural man is learn to make textiles. Same, bro. Same.

A textbook example of why I should follow patterns. It’s gorgeous, if I do say so myself, and the color palette is definitely appropriate for this article, but the hat is too loose, and doesn’t actually keep the cold out. Bother.

“That’s all I want. To live as a natural man.* I want to enjoy the things God was playful enough to make, and I want to really listen to people.” Walker, or rather Celie, doesn’t talk about ‘natural’ living with the char of prophetic fire at the edges of her voice. She isn’t talking about Albert becoming a warrior for righteousness; just about his no longer being an asshole. The Utopic retreat her characters find themselves in as the novel progresses is a different sort of path. It may be idealistic even to reach for as little as the characters lay claim to. But part of me reads that and say: yeah. That would be enough.

*Hey look at that: I don’t have to change, or feel uncomfortable about, the noun! Thanks, cis-male privilege!

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