Banned Book 29 - Color Purple

The Color Purple - Alice Walker

Alice Walker’s book tends to make the banned and challenged book lists all the time.  The Color Purple is her most famous book, in part because of the excellent movie adaption.  The book gets people upset because of the discussion of sexuality, rape, language, and anti-male theme.


                Let’s take about anti-male themes for a bit.


                Recently in the New York Times, there was an op Ed piece about bringing back a more traditional method of learning, stating that books such as Huck Finn should be taught more than they are.  A graduate student wrote a letter in response, stating that Huck Finn made her hate reading fiction, in part, because all she read was books about men.


                She both has and has not a point.


                Huck Finn is a classic.  It should be read and taught.  Additionally, reading fiction works parts of your brain that non-fiction doesn’t.


                But, it is rather annoying to always read stories about men, mostly white,

heterosexual men, doing things.   It can be rather off putting to constantly read stories about men being heroes and bonding while women do womanly things.  When a girl or a woman does take center stage, it can be a rather passive way or even as a secondary character.  You could even call some of these books anti-woman.  Honestly, is Daisy a sterling example of womanhood?  What about the women in Huck Finn that seems to fall into only two groups?  (Twain, himself, seems to have been a feminist.  Read his Eve’s Diary).  What about Ophelia and Gertrude?  How about Desdemona?   Look at Dickens – Estella?


                We need anti-male books to even out this divide.  Color Purple is great because why Celie is at first passive; she grows, changes, and becomes active.  Walker’s novel shows you how to put yourself back together again as it were.  Are the men in the book primary abusive or weak?  Yes, there are good men, and there are even men in the book that become better men.  It’s a counter to the women as secondary characters who fulfill only Madonna and whore images.


                Or is it the problem that we are making men Christs or abusers?