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The book and the film of The Color Purple

The book and the film of The Color Purple have very different emphases and show different attitudes on the part of their respective creators. The subject matter is essentially the same--the mistreatment of black women by their men--but the movie directed by Steven Spielberg is much more poetic in tone, so that for all its criticism of this aspect of black life, it comes off as a nostalgic film. The book has a much harder edge because it takes place in the mind of one victim of this kind of life, expressed by her through letters that fairly cry out for help and for a different life. This is lost in the film first because the letters are at a distance from the viewer and second because the entire story is somehow sugar-coated in some peculiar fashion, with numerous film cliches substituted for a real analysis of the issues or the characters.

In the novel, Alice Walker writes about people she has known, people who lived in the part of the country where she grew up, and she understands these people and the reasons for their behavior. The novel is about abuse, the abuse of one human being by another, and the main character of Celie has been abused throughout her life. The story Walker tells is based on the conditions faced by people like Celie and evokes the values they held in high regard from their place within the larger context of American society. The people of this part of the South constitute a subculture shaped by particular economic and social forces, and those forces are further related to the abuse heaped on many black women by some black males in that subculture. Celie is a young black girl living in Georgia. She has never been the target of male violence all her life. It may be true that this violence has been created by the fact of slavery and its aftermath and by the economic and social consequences of being black in America, especially in the America of the South, but this does not excuse the violence that seem...

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The book and the film of The Color Purple. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:46, August 06, 2020, from