My favorite read this week is Alice Walker's "The Color Purple." This is primarily the story of Celie, a poor Southern black woman, struggling to escape degradation and abuse at the hands of the men in her life. The story is told through letters: Celie's letters to God, her letters to her sister Nettie, and, ultimately, Nettie's letters to Celie. Celie's trouble's really begin when she is raped, repeatedly, by her stepfather who then sells off the children Celie bears. Nettie runs away to avoid the abuse. The step father then marries Celie off to Albert, who Celie refers to simply as "Mister." Celie's is helped along the road to salvation by two strong women: Sophie, who refuses to be taken advantage of by any man (including Celie's stepson) and Shug, an independent singer, who Albert loves and Celie soon comes to love. When Shug discovers that Mister has been hiding Nettie's letters to Celie for years, it unleashes a fury in Celie that leads her to finally declare her independence. The story has an authentic folk tale feel while also being intensely emotional and poignant.
The book was quite controversial, when it was published, because of it's portrayal of black men. The book also deals with racism and touches on homosexuality. Despite the controversy, the book won the Pulitzer Prize.
In 1985, Steven Speilberg turned the book into a movie starring Whoopie Goldberg as Celie, Oprah Winfrey as Sophia, and Danny Glover as Albert. The casting created a stir of it's own, but both Winfrey and Goldberg delivered splendid performances.