The Color Purple

book by Alice Walker

Annotation by Ramona Gonzales

Language is what stands out the most to me. Coming from CNF(Creative Non-fiction), all these different techniques that create voices, characters, images stand out so much more. I think there’s a press to focus on that which can be related as “real” or Truth with a capital T. Fiction isn’t so much worried about that, so an author uses different kinds of devices. This project period, I’ve been fortunate enough to read books with different American dialects, which the specific writers have been able to do with dignity and respect for their characters and the culture they come from.

Strong female characters and exploration of “homosocial” relationships between women: Someone brought this term – homosocial – up in a book conference, and I really liked the simplicity and inclusiveness of the term (strangely enough). To put a socio-scientific term to the experience of having a matriarchal society was both validating and absurdly amusing. But that is exactly what Walker creates in this book – a matriarchal society that springs out of, and in response to, a domineering and abusive patriarchal society.

Faith, hope and destiny – the idea of a divine presence (or lack thereof) : As a writer, one of the aspects that appealed to me about TCP was that Walker states from the beginning that this book was an exercise/exploration of faith. That Walker, who underwent a crisis of faith herself, could create a character who finds faith after having been through wretched circumstances is inspiring at the very least and energizing at best. It could have been easy (and is) to eschew a “happy ending” in favor of “reality”, but “reality” is not always dour and depressing. That Walker found a happy ending in herself to give to the masses was miraculous and divine.

Shug Avery as a protagonist who appeared to suffer the least: she was the one who least adhered to society’s expectations of what she should be, or was able to manage/ move within the threads of society without incurring the same kind of fallout that Sofia did.

Male characters as villains or products/victims of society and upbringing as much as their female counterparts.

As a writer I am continually fascinated with dialogue and how it appears in fiction. Language – “alternative” modes of English, if you will – in written form is so subversive and magical to me. Phonetic speech, incorporated with colloquial words encased in a literary format is completely validating and has encouraged a belief that writing is truly a creative enterprise, much like painting or drawing.

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