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Pulitzerr Prize Wiinner
Authors: Alice Walkerr
Formats: PDF
Fantastic Fic
ction,Barnes & Noble,Good
General Fictiion
Alice Wa
alker’s mas
sterpiece, a powerful novel of co
ourage in tthe face off oppression
Celie ha
as grown up
p in rural Georgia,
avigating a childhood of ceasele
ess abuse. N
only is she
poor an
nd despised
d by the so
ociety aroun
e’s badly trreated by h
nd her, she
family. As
A a teenag
ger she beg
gins writing letters d irectly to G
God in an attempt to
nd a life that often se
eems too much
to bea
ar. Her letters span tw
wenty yearrs
and reco
ord a journ
ney of self-discovery and
werment th
hrough the
e guiding lig
of a few
w strong wo
omen and her
h own im
mplacable w
will to find harmony w
with herself
and her home.
The Colo
lor Purple’ss deeply insspirational narrative, coupled w
with Walkerr’s prodigio
talent as a stylist and
eller, have made the n
novel a con
y classic off
an letters.
This ebo
ook feature
es an illustrrated biogrraphy of Allice Walkerr including rare photo
from the
e author’s personal coollection.
“The Color Purple has been read and reread by millions. Forget lilac, mauve and
lavendar: this is the royal purple.” The Times
From the Back Cover
[Banner] Now a Tony Award-Winning Broadway Musical
The Color Purple is the story of two sisters—one a missionary to Africa and the other
a child wife living in the South—who remain loyal to one another across time,
distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic of
American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of
“Intense emotional impact . . . Indelibly affecting . . . Alice Walker is a lavishly gifted
writer.”—*The New York Times Book Review
“Places Walker in the company of Faulkner.”—The Nation
“Superb . . . A work to stand beside literature of any time and place.”—San
“The Color Purple is an American novel of permanent importance.”—Newsweek
“Marvelous characters . . . A story of revelation . . . One of the great books of our
[banner] Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award
Bestselling novelist Alice Walker is also the author of three collections of short
stories, three collections of essays, six volumes of poetry and several children’s
books. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages. Born in
Eatonton, Georgia, Walker now lives in northern California.
The Color Purple
Alice Walker
To the Spirit:
Without whose assistance
Neither this book
Nor I
Would have been
Show me how to do like you
Show me how to do it.
WHATEVER ELSE The Color Purple has been taken for during the years since its publication, it remains for me the theological
work examining the journey from the religious back to the spiritual that I spent much of my adult life, prior to writing it,
seeking to avoid. Having recognized myself as a worshiper of Nature by the age of eleven, because my spirit resolutely
wandered out the window to find trees and wind during Sunday sermons, I saw no reason why, once free, I should bother
with religious matters at all.
I would have thought that a book that begins “Dear God” would immediately have been identified as a book about the
desire to encounter, to hear from, the Ultimate Ancestor. Perhaps it is a sign of our times that this was infrequently the
case. Or perhaps it is the pagan transformation of God from patriarchal male supremacist into trees, stars, wind, and
everything else, that camouflaged for many readers the book’s intent: to explore the difficult path of someone who starts
out in life already a spiritual captive, but who, through her own courage and the help of others, breaks free into the
realization that she, like Nature itself, is a radiant expression of the heretofore perceived as quite distant Divine.
If it is true that it is what we run from that chases us, then The Color Purple (this color that is always a surprise but is
everywhere in nature) is the book that ran me down while I sat with my back to it in a field. Without the Great Mystery’s
word coming from any Sunday sermon or through any human mouth, there I heard and saw it moving in beauty across
the grassy hills.
No one is exempt from the possibility of a conscious connection to All That Is. Not the poor. Not the suffering. Not the
writer sitting in the open field. This is the book in which I was able to express a new spiritual awareness, a rebirth into
strong feelings of Oneness I realized I had experienced and taken for granted as a child; a chance for me as well as the
main character, Celie, to encounter That Which Is Beyond Understanding But Not Beyond Loving and to say: I see and
hear you clearly, Great Mystery, now that I expect to see and hear you everywhere I am, which is the right place.
You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.
I am fourteen years old. I am I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is
happening to me.
Last spring after little Lucious come I heard them fussing. He was pulling on her arm. She say It too soon, Fonso, I ain’t
well. Finally he leave her alone. A week go by, he pulling on her arm again. She say Naw, I ain’t gonna. Can’t you see I’m
already half dead, an all of these chilren.
She went to visit her sister doctor over Macon. Left me to see after the others. He never had a kine word to say to me.
Just say You gonna do what your mammy wouldn’t. First he put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around.
Then he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying
You better shut up and git used to it.
But I don’t never git used to it. And now I feels sick every time I be the one to cook. My mama she fuss at me an look at
me. She happy, cause he good to her now. But too sick to last long.
My mama dead. She die screaming and cussing. She scream at me. She cuss at me. I’m big. I can’t move fast enough. By
time I git back from the well, the water be warm. By time I git the tray ready the food be cold. By time I git all the children
ready for school it be dinner time. He don’t say nothing. He set there by the bed holding her hand an cryin, talking bout
don’t leave me, don’t go.
She ast me bout the first one Whose it is? I say God’s. I don’t know no other man or what else to say. When I start to hurt
and then my stomach start moving and then that little baby come out my pussy chewing on it fist you could have knock
me over with a feather.
Don’t nobody come see us.
She got sicker an sicker.
Finally she ast Where it is?
I say God took it.
He took it. He took it while I was sleeping. Kilt it out there in the woods. Kill this one too, if he can.
He act like he can’t stand me no more. Say I’m evil an always up to no good. He took my other little baby, a boy this time.
But I don’t think he kilt it. I think he sold it to a man an his wife over Monticello. I got breasts full of milk running down
myself. He say Why don’t you look decent? Put on something. But what I’m sposed to put on? I don’t have nothing.
I keep hoping he fine somebody to marry. I see him looking at my little sister. She scared. But I say I’ll take care of you.
With God help.
He come home with a girl from round Gray. She be my age but they married. He be on her all the time. She walk round
like she don’t know what hit her. I think she thought she love him. But he got so many of us. All needing somethin.
My little sister Nettie is got a boyfriend in the same shape almost as Pa. His wife died. She was kilt by her boyfriend
coming home from church. He got only three children though. He seen Nettie in church and now every Sunday evening
here come Mr. _____. I tell Nettie to keep at her books. It be more then a notion taking care of children ain’t even yourn.
And look what happen to Ma.
He beat me today cause he say I winked at a boy in church. I may have got somethin in my eye but I didn’t wink. I don’t
even look at mens. That’s the truth. I look at women, tho, cause I’m not scared of them. Maybe cause my mama cuss me
you think I kept mad at her. But I ain’t. I felt sorry for mama. Trying to believe his story kilt her.
Sometime he still be looking at Nettie, but I always git in his light. Now I tell her to marry Mr. _____. I don’t tell her why.
I say Marry him, Nettie, an try to have one good year out your life. After that, I know she be big.
But me, never again. A girl at church say you git big if you bleed every month. I don’t bleed no more.
Mr. _____ finally come right out an ast for Nettie hand in marriage. But He won’t let her go. He say she too young, no
experience. Say Mr. _____ got too many children already. Plus What about the scandal his wife cause when somebody kill
her? And what about all this stuff he hear bout Shug Avery? What bout that?
I ast our new mammy bout Shug Avery. What it is? I ast. She don’t know but she say she gon fine out.
She do more then that. She git a picture. The first one of a real person I ever seen. She say Mr. _____ was taking somethin
out his billfold to show Pa an it fell out an slid under the table. Shug Avery was a woman. The most beautiful woman I
ever saw. She more pretty then my mama. She bout ten thousand times more prettier then me. I see her there in furs.
Her face rouge. Her hair like somethin tail. She grinning with her foot up on somebody motocar. Her eyes serious tho. Sad
I ast her to give me the picture. An all night long I stare at it. An now when I dream, I dream of Shug Avery. She be dress to
kill, whirling and laughing.
I ast him to take me instead of Nettie while our new mammy sick. But he just ast me what I’m talking bout. I tell him I can
fix myself up for him. I duck into my room and come out wearing horsehair, feathers, and a pair of our new mammy high
heel shoes. He beat me for dressing trampy but he do it to me anyway.
Mr. _____ come that evening. I’m in the bed crying. Nettie she finally see the light of day, clear. Our new mammy she see
it too. She in her room crying. Nettie tend to first one, then the other. She so scared she go out doors and vomit. But not
out front where the two mens is.
Mr. _____ say, Well Sir, I sure hope you done change your mind.
He say, Naw, Can’t say I is.
Mr. _____ say, Well, you know, my poor little ones sure could use a mother.
Well, He say, real slow, I can’t let you have Nettie. She too young. Don’t know nothing but what you tell her. Sides, I want
her to git some more schooling. Make a schoolteacher out of her. But I can let you have Celie. She the oldest anyway. She
ought to marry first. She ain’t fresh tho, but I spect you know that. She spoiled. Twice. But you don’t need a fresh woman
no how. I got a fresh one in there myself and she sick all the time. He spit, over the railing. The children git on her nerve,
she not much of a cook. And she big already.
Mr. _____ he don’t say nothing. I stop crying I’m so surprise.
She ugly. He say. But she ain’t no stranger to hard work. And she clean. And God done fixed her. You can do everything
just like you want to and she ain’t gonna make you feed it or clothe it.
Mr. _____ still don’t say nothing. I take out the picture of Shug Avery. I look into her eyes. Her eyes say Yeah, it bees that
way sometime.
Fact is, he say, I got to git rid of her. She too old to be living here at home. And she a bad influence on my other girls.
She’d come with her own linen. She can take that cow she raise down there back of the crib. But Nettie you flat out can’t
have. Not now. Not never.
Mr. _____ finally speak. Clearing his throat. I ain’t never really look at that one, he say.
Well, next time you come you can look at her. She ugly. Don’t even look like she kin to Nettie. But she’ll make the better
wife. She ain’t smart either, and I’ll just be fair, you have to watch her or she’ll give away everything you own. But she can
work like a man.
Mr. _____ say How old she is?
He say, She near twenty. And another thing—She tell lies.
It took him the whole spring, from March to June, to make up his mind to take me. All I thought about was Nettie. How
she could come to me if I marry him and he be so love struck with her I could figure out a way for us to run away. Us both
be hitting Nettie’s schoolbooks pretty hard, cause us know we got to be smart to git away. I know I’m not as pretty or as
smart as Nettie, but she say I ain’t dumb.
The way you know who discover America, Nettie say, is think bout cucumbers. That what Columbus sound like. I learned
all about Columbus in first grade, but look like he the first thing I forgot. She say Columbus come here in boats call the
Neater, the Peter, and the Santomareater. Indians so nice to him he force a bunch of ’em back home with him to wait on
the queen.
But it hard to think with gitting married to Mr. _____ hanging over my head.
The first time I got big Pa took me out of school. He never care that I love it. Nettie stood there at the gate holding tight to
my hand. I was all dress for first day. You too dumb to keep going to school, Pa say. Nettie the clever one in this bunch.
But Pa, Nettie say, crying, Celie smart too. Even Miss Beasley say so. Nettie dote on Miss Beasley. Think nobody like her in
the world.
Pa say, Whoever listen to anything Addie Beasley have to say. She run off at the mouth so much no man would have her.
That how come she have to teach school. He never look up from cleaning his gun. Pretty soon a bunch of white mens
come walking cross the yard. They have guns too.
Pa git up and follow ’em. The rest of the week I vomit and dress wild game.
But Nettie never give up. Next thing I know Miss Beasley at our house trying to talk to Pa. She say long as she been a
teacher she never know nobody want to learn bad as Nettie and me. But when Pa call me out and she see how tight my
dress is, she stop talking and go.
Nettie still don’t understand. I don’t neither. All us notice is I’m all the time sick and fat.
I feel bad sometime Nettie done pass me in learnin. But look like nothing she say can git in my brain and stay. She try to
tell me something bout the ground not being flat. I just say, Yeah, like I know it. I never tell her how flat it look to me.
Mr.come finally one day looking all drug out.
The woman he had helping him done quit. His mammy done said No More.
He say, Let me see her again.
Pa call me. Celie, he say. Like it wasn’t nothing. Mr. _____ want another look at you.
I go stand in the door. The sun shine in my eyes. He’s still up on his horse. He look me up and down.
Pa rattle his newspaper. Move up, he won’t bite, he say.
I go closer to the steps, but not too close cause I’m a little scared of his horse.
Turn round, Pa say.
I turn round. One of my little brothers come up. I think it was Lucious. He fat and playful, all the time munching on
He say, What you doing that for?
Pa say, Your sister thinking bout marriage.
Didn’t mean nothing to him. He pull my dresstail and ast can he have some blackberry jam out the safe.
I say, Yeah.
She good with children, Pa say, rattling his paper open more. Never heard her say a hard word to nary one of them. Just
give ’em everything they ast for, is the only problem.
Mr. _____ say, That cow still coming?
He say, Her cow.
I spend my wedding day running from the oldest boy. He twelve. His mama died in his arms and he don’t want to hear
nothing bout no new one. He pick up a rock and laid my head open. The blood run all down tween my breasts. His daddy
say Don’t do that! But that’s all he say. He got four children, instead of three, two boys and two girls. The girls hair ain’t
been comb since their mammy died. I tell him I’ll just have to shave it off. Start fresh. He say bad luck to cut a woman
hair. So after I bandage my head best I can and cook dinner—they have a spring, not a well, and a wood stove look like a
truck—I start trying to untangle hair. They only six and eight and they cry. They scream. They cuse me of murder. By ten
o’clock I’m done. They cry theirselves to sleep. But I don’t cry. I lay there thinking bout Nettie while he on top of me,
wonder if she safe. And then I think bout Shug Avery. I know what he doing to me he done to Shug Avery and maybe she
like it. I put my arm around him.
I was in town sitting on the wagon while Mr. _____ was in the dry good store. I seen my baby girl. I knowed it was her.
She look just like me and my daddy. Like more us then us is ourself. She be tagging long hind a lady and they be dress just
alike. They pass the wagon and I speak. The lady speak pleasant. My little girl she look up and sort of frown. She fretting
over something. She got my eyes just like they is today. Like everything I seen, she seen, and she pondering it.
I think she mine. My heart say she mine. But I don’t know she mine. If she mine, her name Olivia. I embroder Olivia in the
seat of all her daidies. I embrody lot of little stars and flowers too. He took the daidies when he took her. She was bout
two month old. Now she bout six.
I clam down from the wagon and I follow Olivia and her new mammy into a store. I watch her run her hand long side the
counter, like she ain’t interested in nothing. Her ma is buying cloth. She say Don’t touch nothing. Olivia yawn.
That real pretty, I say, and help her mama drape a piece of cloth close to her face.
She smile. Gonna make me an my girl some new dresses, she say. Her daddy be so proud.
Who her daddy, I blurt out. It like at last somebody know.
She say Mr. _____. But that ain’t my daddy name.
Mr. _____? I say. Who he?
She look like I ast something none of my bidniss.
The Reverend Mr. _____, she say, then turn her face to the clerk. He say, Girl you want that cloth or not? We got other
customers sides you.
She say, Yes sir. I want five yards, please sir.
He snatch the cloth and thump down the bolt. He don’t measure. When he think he got five yard he tare it off. That be a
dollar and thirty cent, he say. You need thread?
She say, Naw suh.
He say, You can’t sew thout thread. He pick up a spool and hold it gainst the cloth. That look like it bout the right color.
Don’t you think.
She say, Yessuh.
He start to whistle. Take two dollars. Give her a quarter back. He look at me. You want something gal? I say, Naw Suh.
I trail long behind them on the street.
I don’t have nothing to offer and I feels poor.
She look up and down the street. He ain’t here. He ain’t here. She say like she gon cry.
Who ain’t? I ast.
The Reverend Mr. ___, she say. He took the wagon.
My husband wagon right here, I say.
She clam up. I thank you kindly, she say. Us sit looking at all the folks that’s come to town. I never seen so many even at
church. Some be dress too. Some don’t hit on much. Dust git all up the ladies dress.
She ast me Who is my husband, now I know all bout hers. She laugh a little. I say Mr. _____. She say, Sure nuff? Like she
know all about him. Just didn’t know he was married. He a fine looking man, she say. Not a finer looking one in the
county. White or black, she say.
He do look all right, I say. But I don’t think about it while I say it. Most times mens look pretty much alike to me.
How long you had your little girl? I ast.
Oh, she be seven her next birthday.
When that? I ast.
She think back. Then she say, December.
I think, November.
I say, real easy, What you call her?
She say, oh, we calls her Pauline.
My heart knock.
Then she frown. But I …
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