Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

Fleshing out the novel

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Having never seen the film adaptation of The Color Purple before, I was slightly unsure about whether or not the movie version would be able to capture Celie’s internal life. However, I ultimately found that the film adds a lot of colour and nuancing to the book, and fleshes out the narrative. For example, it is much harder to deny the reality of such atrocious realities as how Celie is raped and beaten when it is presented visually. Sometimes when reading, I created Mr. _____ to be less intimidating in my mind – when he shouted in the novel, I imagined he did it out of some sort of guilty desperation rather than anger and plain cruel hatred. Adding the visual element, especially with such a raw topic, can really drive the reality of all Celie’s pain home.

That’s why I think the inclusion of a strong comedic streak comes necessary. It balances out all the horror. I remember in class, after reading The Street, some of us felt that the down-spiral of naturalism was unnecessarily hopeless. In this sense, The Color Purple’s film adaptation might feel more “real” to viewers – after all, comedy is a part of life, even in miserable circumstances. I believe half of the book itself is about presenting the versatility of life, and celebrating it. Comedy comes with that. In my opinion, it strengthens the in-your-face, breathing, living, surviving mentality of The Color Purple rather than weakens its messages on oppression.

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