Spoiler Discussion Questions and chatter about The Color Purple by Alice walker


Stop!  If you have not read The Color Purple (or seen the movie) this section will contain spoilers.  Proceed only if you have read the book and/or seen the movie.  In that case, I would also like to hear your thoughts.  Please leave them in the comment section as I would love to get a discussion going on this incredible read.


1. What was your perception of this book coming into thee read-a-long? Had you read it before? Seen the movie? Always meant to read/watch it? Did your initial perception influence your read-a-long experience?
I came into this read totally open-minded.  I had not read the book or seen the movie.   I joined the read-a-long because this was a book I have always said I would read but had not.  This was exactly what I needed to get moving on this read.


2.  For new readers: Was the book what you expected it to be? What DID you expect?

Great question and honestly I do not know what I expected but I can say it was not this. I read the first few pages while on a Girls Weekend at the cabin and I came out to the breakfast table the next morning and read these pages to the girls I was hanging out with. They were shocked, and yes I waited until they were not eating.


3.  How do you feel in general about epistolary novels (books told through letters)? Did this format influence your enjoyment of this book in any way? Do you think the story would have had the same impact if it were not told solely through letters? What other epistolary novels have you read? Did they work for you or did the format detract from the book?

I enjoy the format and found it quite appropriate that at a time that Celie really had no one to talk to but God, that she write her letters to Him.   I feel it really adds to the story here.  I have read several books in this format – off the top of my head:  The Wednesday Letters, Suzanne’s Diary For Nicholas… (I know there are more).


4.  Do Celie’s letters to God and her letters to Nettie have a different feel to them or do they seem the same? What do you think of Celie’s habit of ending her letters to Nettie with “Amen”?

In the letter’s to Nettie its seems that Celie has a new hope now that she has found her sister.  I think she ends the letters with “Amen” because the letters to Nettie go out almost as prayers, she is not sure if they will reach her sister.


5.  Is the story believable to you? Why or why not?   Does believability matter to you in a “real-life” type book?

Yes – very believable.   It blew me away how real it felt.  For the time this was written it is very accurate for the area they lived in and for the limited education and resources they had.  As you read the book you see the circumstances that surrounded Celie, were not hers alone.  The others characters in this book also go through many of the same things.  It was what it was.


What are your thoughts on this book?  I would love to discuss it further -

  • Did the beginning shock you or were you expecting the book to go this direction?
  • What did you think about the fact that Celie’s first born was killed?  Do you think that is a realistic portrayal of the way things were?
  • How important is Sophie’s character to this book?
  • How did you feel about Celie’s and Shug’s relationship?  Do you think there is a significant reason that Celie preferred women?
  • Who cheered (besides me) when the women started to stand up for themselves?
  1. I really loved this book (read it 10 or so years ago now, so I don’t remember tons of details). I hate that it can feel so real, though.

    • Hannah, at first I was so shocked about how it started – right from page one! And page two and three…. well, they were worse than page one (graphic and a bit too real!)…. it took a while for me to get into the book but once there I appreciated why it started the way it did.

  2. saw the movie and just listened to the book read to me by the author. i was not shocked by the book because of the movie. what did surprise me was how they made the movie from such a slender book…but i am glad they did. i think all of the women were important to the book and the movie because of their diverse personalities and they way share, support and change. as for the first child, i think i find it harder to believe he let any live! what with the way both men had treated her, it sure would be understandable that she would have been drawn to shug. shug was this shining human she had been told about. and lordy was she ever the most extra ordinary human she had ever encountered! and shug soon became so nice to her where she had had so little affection from anyone since her sister left. can you imagine what her life would have been like if shug had never entered her life? shudder! cheered both watching the movie (good thing i was at home) and listening when the women discovered their strength! you really do need to see the movie!

  3. I read this book the year it won the Pulitzer — I was in high school. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

  4. Thanks for tackling some of the discussion questions! I love checking out other readers’ responses to this book. I’m thrilled to see that you enjoyed it so much. :)

  5. Also: I totally forgot this was epistolary. I love epistolary novels, but this came before that realization for me. And somehow I didn’t remember that fact.

  6. I really loved this book as well – like you I hadn’t got a clue about it until I started reading it. It was shocking – but then abuse and violence always is, but I do think it’s one of the most life affirming books I’ve ever read. http://bit.ly/bPQKlD

    • Liz I agree. Its one of those books that makes me think what took me so long to read this? Then I followed up with the movie which I thought would be outdated and it blew me away too. I was very impressed on how it was done.

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