Reading Through the Text: The Black Woman as Audience: Jacqueline Bobo
The novel The Color Purple (1982) is a critical component of a tradition of Black women's literature. It continues an effort by Black women writers to give Black women an empowering view of themselves. The central problem with the film The Color Purple (1985) is that the empowering aspects of the strong Black women are neutralized and the full dimensions of patriarchal domination are obliterated. In the Steven Spielberg production the Black woman as protagonist has been displaced as the center of the story, which becomes a chronicle of an abusive Black man's journey toward self-understanding. The film changes him from an evil person into one who is perplexed and confused. The film grants the male protagonist salvation because he has arranged for a happy ending for the woman he misused throughout the film. This is the antithesis of the ending of the novel, which revolves around an abused Black woman beginning to appreciate herself and becoming economically independent.