Reader response journal for Alice Walker's The Color Purple.

Essay by mauhan March 2004

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The Color Purple

Alice Walker

Entry 1

"You better not never tell nobody but God. It'd kill your mammy." Alice Walker, the author of The Color Purple, begins her novel with an ambiguous threat. A fairly powerful, yet unexplained, quote begins a very powerful novel. Before opening this book, I had no idea how it was written or what it was about, I chose it solely by recommendation. I soon noticed that the whole story was to be told through letters written by the protagonist and addressed to God. I was actually very pleased to be reading something formatted different; I thought it would be more interesting. I did not know what I was in store for.

Alice Walker wastes no time to shock the reader right off of the bat. The very first letter describes the rape of the protagonist by her stepfather. Uneducated language is used to bring more depth and realism, but also adds a sort of crudeness to it.

This is nothing you would expect a first page to consist of. A turn of the page begins with, "My mama dead. She die screaming and cussing. She scream at me."

No concern with being vivid in unpleasant details is found as Alice Walker begins her novel. Above all, this way of writing creates a much more powerful effect. The messages and themes are intensified. I was a little disturbed at first, but I really believe that this style of writing was very compliant to the piece as a whole. However, who is the protagonist and why isn't the letter signed?

Entry 2

"Dear Nettie, I don't write to God no more, I write to you." The letters have again changed and are now Celie addressing Nettie. Celie briefly explains that she has given up...