Excerpt from The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This is an excerpt from the book The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
Nettie here with us. She run way from home. She say she hate to leave our stepma, but she had to git out, maybe fine help for the other little ones. The boys be alright, she say. They can stay out his way. When they git big they gon fight him.
Maybe kill, I say.
How is it with you and Mr. ____? she ast. But she got eyes. He still like her. In the evening he come out on the porch in his Sunday best. She be sitting there with me shelling peas or helping the children with they spelling. Helping me with spelling and everything else she think I need to know. No matter what happen, Nettie steady try to teach me what go on in the world. And she a good teacher too. It nearly kill me to think she might marry somebody like Mr. _____ or wind up in some white lady kitchen. All day she read, she study, she practice her handwriting, and try to git us to think. Most days I feel too tired to think. But Patient her middle name.
Mr. _____ children all bright but they mean. They say Celie, I want dis. Celie I want dat. Our Mama let us have it. He don’t say nothing. They try to get his tention, he hide hind a puff of smoke.
Don’t let them run over you, Nettie say. You got to let them know who got the upper hand.
They got it, I say.
But she keep on, You got to fight. You got to fight.
But I don’t know how to fight. All I know how to do is stay alive.
That’s a real pretty dress you got on, he say to Nettie.
She say, Thank you.
Them shoes look just right.
She say, Thank you.
Your skin. Your hair. Your teefs. Everyday it something else to make miration over.
First she smile a little. Then she frown. Then she don’t look no special way at all. She just stick close to me. She tell me, Your skin. Your hair, Your teefs. He try to give her a compliment, she pass it on to me. After while I git to feeling pretty cute.
Soon he stop. He say one night in bed, Well, us done help Nettie all we can. Now she got to go.
Where she gon go? I ast.
I don’t care, he say.
I tell Nettie the next morning. Stead of being mad, she glad to go. Say she hate to leave me is all. Us fall on each other neck when she say that.
I sure hate to leave you here with these rotten children, she say. Not to mention with Mr. ____. It’s like seeing you buried, she say.
It’s worse than that, I think. If I was buried, I wouldn’t have to work. But I just say, Never mine, never mine, long as I can spell G-o-d I got somebody along.
But I only got one thing to give her, the name of
Reverend Mr. ____. I tell her to ast for his wife. That maybe she would help. She the only woman I even seen with money.
I say, Write.
She say, What?
I say, Write.
She say, Nothing but death can keep me from it.
She never write.
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The Color Purple – Summary
Here is the book summary from Goodreads:
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Alice Walker’s iconic modern classic is now a Penguin Book.
A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience.
The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alice Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love.
As seen in the description above, if there are topics you prefer not to read about, you may want to check out the trigger warnings before reading this book.
Copyright © 1982 by Kahlil Gibran.
You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.