The Color Purple

Alice Walker


Why The Color Purple and Half-Dome

Just as no mountain has been more influential for me than Half-Dome, no story has been more influential for me than The Color Purple. The story of Celie, Shug, Sophia, and the rest of the characters is one of my favorite books of all-time and the Spielberg movie is my favorite movie of all time. There was never any doubt in my mind that The Color Purple would be my final book selection of 52 Peaks.


The Color Purple is a story of the resilience during heartbreak and the journey of the human soul to find beauty and love in the darkest of times. One of my favorite lines that I quote often is from Shug Avery: I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.” We are each the color purple and we all just want to be loved. That is the message of this phenomenal story written by Alice Walker in 1982.


I have seen this movie too many times to count. The performances by Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah, Danny Glover, and the rest of the cast are forever memorable. The music my Quincy Jones also captures the spirit of the film perfectly. When Shug sings “Sister” to Celie, it is one of the best moments in the film.


When Celie finally has her moment after being beat down for years, she has one of the best quotes of all time. “I’m poor, black; I may even be ugly. But dear God! I’m here! I’m here!” We are all here, living in this moment. We each have the power to define who we want to be and what we will accept. Celie rises from the ashes to inspire us all. Alice Walker gave us a gift of the ages with this novel.


The Color Purpleis also the book that motivated me to start collecting first editions. Over fifteen years ago, I wanted to get a hard-back copy of this book and found out it was no longer available. I did some investigating and found out all about book collecting. It took me quite a few years to eventually get a rare first edition of the novel. I later had it signed by Alice Walker and it is one of my most prized possessions.

More About The Color Purple

The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker that won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.


Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of African-American women in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000–2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence.


The novel was adapted into a film of the same name in 1985. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Whoopi Goldberg as Celie, Danny Glover as Albert, and Oprah Winfrey as Sofia. Though nominated for eleven Academy Awards, it won none. This perceived snubbing ignited controversy because many critics considered it the best picture that year, including Roger Ebert.


On December 1, 2005, a musical adaptation of the novel (based on the film) opened at The Broadway Theatre in New York City. The show was produced by Scott Sanders, Quincy Jones, Harvey Weinstein, and Oprah Winfrey, who was also an investor. It garnered five 2006 Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, including Outstanding Broadway Musical and Outstanding New Score. That same year, the show was nominated for eleven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score Written for the Theater, and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (LaChanze). LaChanze did win the Tony Award, though the show itself won no other awards. LaChanze’s win was attributed to the variety of roles for which she had garnered positive attention, as well as for a powerful backstory. In April 2007, Fantasia Barrino took over the role. The Broadway production ended its run on February 24, 2008.