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Thread: GS Book Club, Nov. 2015: The Color Purple

  1. #21
    Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset skylark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs. P View Post
    Actually maybe this is a case for thinking the book is about "God?"

    Many times in the New Testament, Jesus tells his disciples that only children can get into heaven and that to get to heaven, one must think like a child. Children often freely accept parents love and have faith in them. Likewise Jesus is asking the disciples to freely accept God's grace through him.

    That child, in essence, gets to truly be herself, because she is free to accept the love of her her adopted parents. Celie, on the other hand, is raised from the get go that she hasn't "earned love" because she's either ugly or hasn't done enough. But yet, she is still a child in some ways, where she seems open to greater things than what she has now. I think the fact she sees Olivia the way she does (rather than as a child of rape) is a great indicator of that.

    So I agree with you skylark that she can see humanity.
    You've made a really great connection with the New Testament there, Mrs P. And your comparison also makes a case for the fact that a child who hasn't been given unconditional love, even if it's just a matter of parents' love being freely given only when the child performs well or lives up to the parents' expectations ... may have a harder time accepting unconditional love from God, as an adult or near-adult. Not that it's impossible, at all, but the journey may be longer and more difficult.

  2. #22
    Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset skylark's Avatar
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    DorisPulaski, I'd be interested in hearing more about the fan who disagreed with Alice Walker that The Color Purple is about God. Do you have any details?

  3. #23
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    I don't. But Ms. Walker writes that she composed the long preface, detailing why the book was about God, what the most important sentence in the book is, and who says it, because of that conversation.

    I can't imagine contradicting an author to their face on such a matter. Brave fan!

    But be aware that Walker's version of God is not anthropomorphic, and she believes that we must undergo some type of suffering to become fully aware of God.

    One reason from this point of view that Celie suggests that Harpo beat Sophia, is that it makes it clear that Celie is not without sin. She is not some stand in for Christ in the story. And being sinful herself, it makes it believable when she might be able to forgive any of those who sinned against her, I think.

  4. #24
    Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset skylark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    I don't. But Ms. Walker writes that she composed the long preface, detailing why the book was about God, what the most important sentence in the book is, and who says it, because of that conversation.

    I can't imagine contradicting an author to their face on such a matter. Brave fan!

    But be aware that Walker's version of God is not anthropomorphic, and she believes that we must undergo some type of suffering to become fully aware of God.

    One reason from this point of view that Celie suggests that Harpo beat Sophia, is that it makes it clear that Celie is not without sin. She is not some stand in for Christ in the story. And being sinful herself, it makes it believable when she might be able to forgive any of those who sinned against her, I think.
    Okay, I see -- Alice Walker seems to have waxed long, maybe because she got her back up a little when a reader spoke so firmly about what the book was about. Still, it surprises me somewhat. Ms. Walker had impressed me a bit more as a person who would give leeway for readers to have and honor their own interpretation and their own experience of the book. Still, the book is Alice Walker's baby.

    Yes, I remembered from reading the book years ago that Walker's concept of God isn't a personification. That fluidity was actually one of my favorite things.

    I feel that when Celie told Harpo to beat Sofia, she was simply reflecting the world as she knew it up to that point. He asked her for advice. But as soon as she gave it, she knew she'd wronged Sofia; she knew that was why she couldn't sleep at night. She couldn't rest until she'd gone to Sofia to ask for forgiveness. I think that's one place where the book differs from the movie, IIRC. In the movie, Sofia comes to Celie in her hurt and indignation. But that version robs Celie of taking the initiative in that action.

    Now that I write that last sentence, I think it's even more important. In most areas up to that point, Celie doesn't take action; she simply does what she's told. So this event becomes one of the first steps in Celie's taking responsibility for what she's done, a step to becoming self-actualized.

  5. #25
    Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset skylark's Avatar
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    Maybe I should mention to everyone that when I ask a question, it isn't because I don't have an answer myself. I almost always do, But I think the most interesting discussions of a book take place in the gray areas where there isn't just one answer to a question. It's in exchange of ideas that we formulate our own more securely, and at the same time expand our own perceptions. Have I mentioned here that I lead book discussion groups part-time?

  6. #26
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    And I have never taken part in a book discussion group, so thanks for any guidance on how things are supposed to be done.

  7. #27
    Medalist desertskates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylark View Post
    Welcome, desertskates! I hope you'll jump in any time.
    Thank you, skylark! I'll jump in soon. I just got my book today from Amazon, I'm excited to dig in.

  8. #28
    Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset skylark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    And I have never taken part in a book discussion group, so thanks for any guidance on how things are supposed to be done.
    Well, I have been known to be a little bossy without realizing it, so I'm trying to rein myself in.

    What do y'all (Doris and Mrs P) think would encourage people to jump into the conversation? Would it help to have all the questions listed together in one spot, or is it better to just leave things be, and let people read along and catch up. Either way, I hope everyone will feel encouraged to contribute their thoughts, or confusion, or questions, etc. and not feel restricted by what has gone before.

  9. #29
    Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset skylark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by desertskates View Post
    Thank you, skylark! I'll jump in soon. I just got my book today from Amazon, I'm excited to dig in.
    Great.

  10. #30
    Uno, Dos, twizzle!
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylark View Post
    Well, I have been known to be a little bossy without realizing it, so I'm trying to rein myself in.

    What do y'all (Doris and Mrs P) think would encourage people to jump into the conversation? Would it help to have all the questions listed together in one spot, or is it better to just leave things be, and let people read along and catch up. Either way, I hope everyone will feel encouraged to contribute their thoughts, or confusion, or questions, etc. and not feel restricted by what has gone before.
    I think for now the free flow works pretty well. If there's something you feel we need to discuss, feel free to put it in!

  11. #31
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    If anyone has read ahead, he/she could add some questions to the thread for us to consider as we move to the second part of the book.

  12. #32
    Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset skylark's Avatar
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    How did everyone feel when you first started the book? Disappointed? Afraid the whole book would be depressing? Not what you expected from seeing the movie? Angry?

    None of the above? Happy, sad or disoriented because of the subject matter, the syntax and creative grammar, the direct and concise language?

    Something else entirely?

    Resistant to reading further? (If so, please say so ... maybe someone will have had similar thoughts and/or can talk you through it).

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