The Color Purple: Journal Entry

Nothing perhaps is more intimate and personal than a letter. Either written to oneself or another, a letter is a collection of pure thoughts, distilled and given greater substance and urgency for the necessity of certain actions. Letters give people a glimpse into the inner workings of their minds as well as into their deepest and most urgent feelings.

Why do we write letters, or more importantly, why do I write letters? Reflecting on the reasons, I have realized that I write letters primarily to express my thoughts and feelings to another person. But the mere act of being consciously aware of how we feel is already a cathartic and cleansing experience. When we see our thoughts in print, we are forced to face them and take action for the realities of our own lives. In this regard, I have realized that I have never been really fond of writing letters not so much because I do not like to do so, but perhaps because there are many emotions and thoughts that I do not want to face up to.

Reading the novel The Color Purple has given me a renewed insight on the power of letters in our lives. The Color Purple’s story was presented in the context of the main character’s letters which captured the events and the changes taking place in her life. Reading the story through Celie’s letters, I am inspired to think about my own life and how would I write the events in my life in a letter form if I was given the chance or asked to do so. I guess in the end, whatever our reasons may be for writing a letter, all of us write them in the hopes that our silent voices be heard and understood.

The Color Purple takes place in the cotton farms of Southern United States, during the 1820’s to the 1850’s. The story revolves around the story of Celie, an African-American girl, who by the tender age of fourteen has already conceived two children. Celie was impregnated by the man she believed was his father, a man who has been raping her at a very young age. Celie’s babies were taken away from her and she was forced to marry a man, Albert, who had no love for Celie. Celie stays in the loveless and abusive marriage, passively accepting her wretched lot.

Thinking about Celie and the kind of life that she has had, I wonder what I would have done differently if I were in her situation. Would I have allowed those people to continue to abuse me? By continuing to be passive, was Celie actually encouraging those people to keep doing what they are doing to her? Reading on I have also realized that Celie’s life was also to some extent a direct result of the day and age where she lived. As such, it is not for me to pass judgment on Celie and her victim mentality. Indeed, I lucky I am to be living in a time and place where society is more conscious of gender and racial equality and where every individual is given the opportunity to follow their own dreams and be the best person that we all can be.

Truly our lives are greatly influenced by the circumstances that surround our lives. But how we view the world and life in general is something that we can choose to determine and define for ourselves. In Celie’s case, all the suffering and hardships she has gone served only to strengthen her spirit and will to overcome. I hope to use Celie’s life to inspire me as I go through my own life challenges.

Celie’s journey to self-discovery and self-actualization was made possible by the strong relationships she has forged with the other women in the story. With each having their own struggles in life, all of them found collective strength in their common pain. All throughout the book The Color Purple  the relationships that exist between the female characters became the fount from where they sourced the strength and the courage to open themselves and tell their life experiences for other people to learn from. The genuine friendships that blossomed among the women in the novel served as the anchor where the characters found stability amid the many storms lashing all around their lives. Women found among each other solace and refuge in a world where men oppressed and dominated them through physical and silent violence.

Ultimately, the novel The Color Purple is about the healing power of relationships, especially the one that exists between sisters, blood-related or not. This relationship found ultimate expression in the letters interspersed all throughout the film. The relationship between Celie and Nettie was the lifeline that gave Celie the strength to endure and the courage to overcome the tragedies of her life. A turning point of the film was when Celie saw all of Nettie’s unread letters, for Celie this was the impetus she was waiting for; the final push that made her jump over the edge.

Friendships are truly one of life’s greatest treasures. Reading the book, I have been made to recall several instances of my own struggles in life and how my friends have been instrumental in keeping me from despair and surrender.

Lately I have been reflecting on the lives of the people in The Color Purple. I choose to focus this entry on Albert, Celie’s abusive and cruel husband. In the story, Albert is supposed to be smitten with Nettie, Celie’s younger sister. Albert has no love lost for Celie, but marries her anyway. Celie calls her husband “Mister”, perhaps as a reflection of the kind of relationship that exists between them. “Mister” treats Celie like a slave, forcing her to take care of his children from a previous marriage while doing chores without rest day in and day out. Mister is violent and cruel, and Celie lives a wretched life, perhaps even worse than the life she had with her incestuous father.

What is it makes people cruel, are they just born that way? I refuse to believe so. I am the kind of person who always believes the good in people. I believe that we are all innately good, but events in our lives force us to become the person that we are. While we choose the actions that we take, our choices may be limited by our experiences. Sometimes we take a course of action in the belief that it is the only option available to us; that it is our only choice and we do not know any better.

Reading about Albert and how he treats Celie, I wonder what thoughts and feelings are going through Albert’s mind as he hurts Celie; does he know that what he is doing is wrong, and does he feel any remorse for his actions towards Celie. Perhaps we will never know how Albert really feels and whether he feels any love for Celie; and it is also for this reason why it is not for us to pass any judgments. Albert is a broken soul and the pain that he inflicts upon Celie is but a reflection of his own fears and pain.

Things became better for Celie when Nettie went to live with them. For Celie, the time spent with Nettie was sheer solace; for some reason the suffering she has had to endure in the hands of her husband became more bearable when Celie is with her sister. Nettie teaches Celie how to read and it seems everything would be fine for Celie. However, this is not to be so. Mister, unable to repress his desire for Nettie began to make advances towards her. Nettie adamantly refuses Mister’s offer of affection, and spurned by the rejection, Mister kicks Nettie out his house.

When Celie learned how to read, she fell in love with the printed word. She read every opportunity she could, finding in books and other reading materials the escape and solace that she needed to survive the many pains of her life. Later on as an offshoot of her love for reading, she became a diligent writer of letters. Her letters are addressed to several people, symbolizing her evolution from a victim to an empowered human being.

Reflecting on the chapter where Celie was taught how to read, I am again reminded of how important literacy and education is to people. I think that Celie’s life changed for the better when she learned to read. An entire new world was opened up to her, and she became more aware of the possibilities in her own lives. By extension, my education is my passport to a better life. I hope to use what I have learned in school in order to become a self-actualized person who is able to make meaningful contribution in society and in the lives of the people around me. By the sheer act of reading, we can free our minds and let our minds consider the many possibilities of our lives.

The Color Purple: Journal Entry 6
After leaving Mister, many changes took place in Celie’s life, as if her life was just waiting for her to claim it. Soon after, the man Celie thought was her father died. Celie then finds out who her real father was, and that he left her a house before he died. Mister became addicted to alcohol and was shown in the film as languishing in his own misery. Thereafter, Celie reunites with her sister Nettie and her two long-lost children. And on this positive note, the film ends.

The search for a voice and the need to be heard is universal in every individual, and that is what the book The Color Purple is all about. The last pages of the book deal with the theme of new beginnings, and the story ends with the same note as well.

Indeed by writing letters and journals, Celie became the chronicler of her own life. These words served to chronicle the changes that took place within the soul of Celie, which in turn affected the lives of the people around her as well. The development of Celie’s character is captured by the letters that she writes. Silenced by the world she grows up in and the men who violate her, Celie finds her voice in the letters she makes. Initially she writes to God, symbolic of her fears to speak for herself. As the story progresses, the letters she wrote is addressed to Nettie, as symbolizing her willingness to come out of her tortured shell. Finally, Celie writes to everyone, as she takes the definite steps towards reclaiming her own life.

And on that note, I end this journal with a renewed appreciation for taking the time to be with ourselves, collect our own thoughts and face up to own fears. That is only way to overcome ourselves and triumph in life.

The novel The Kite Runner revolves around the relationship that exists between Amir and Hassan. The setting is in Afghanistan and reading the story, I am given a unique perspective on how it is to live in a country torn by civil war and relentless violence.

While living in separate worlds, the two protagonists become fast friends. Amir who was born to a life of privilege became close to Hassan, who is the son of a servant. Aside from their differences in financial backgrounds, the two are also separated by faith. While Amir and Hassan are both Muslims, Amir is Sunni while Hassan is Shiite. Of these two, the Sunni believe themselves to have the better religion; that they are superior in all aspects compared to the Shiite. The conflict between Shiite and Sunni is at the heart of most conflicts in Moslem nations.

Thinking about this, I began to wonder why people should be violent towards another just because they do not share the same beliefs or ideologies. Why we are so intolerant of people who we perceive are different from us? In fact, in all of our collective history, most of our greatest battles have been wrought out of our sheer refusal to accept and tolerate each others differences. Instead of celebrating what is our common humanity, we choose to focus on the lines that separate us from each other.

Reading this book by Khaled Hosseini, I endeavor to become more aware of my own personal prejudices and stereotypes about people and I am resolved to treat everyone I meet with kindness and an open mind. I believe that is the only way for lasting peace to finally reign in the world.

Eventually, the friendship that existed between Amir and Hassan deteriorated into enmity. All throughout the book, Hassan is shown to be a troubled man, haunted by the way he has treated his childhood friend, Amir. When they were young, Amir constantly mocked and abused Hassan which Hassan patiently and silently endured. The differences between them were a constant source of agitation and conflict between two children separated by so many lines.

The turning point in their friendship took place when Amir fled and hid when Hassan was raped beaten mercilessly by their common childhood enemy. They were never the same since then. Soon after, events would take place that would separate the two. They would never be physically reunited once again. Yet the friendship never really died. It was just buried in the clutter of existence. In the case of Hassan, he was constantly bothered by the memory of Amir while he was growing up.

The Kite Runner has made me realize how precious true friendships can be. That it is a gift that only a few people are given the chance to have. In Hassan and Amir’s case what they had between them was genuine and rare. That is perhaps the reason why Amir never felt complete and happy until he is able to redeem himself in the eyes of Hassan and his loved ones. His life was focused on this one task alone, to the denial of everything else. Nothing really is as pure as a childhood friendship and as I write this journal, I give a silent prayer for the people I was given the chance to share my childhood with. Wherever they may be, I wish them well and I hope that life would once again give us the chance to become the friends we once were.

As I progress in reading The Kite Runner, I am once again reminded by the miraculous power of forgiveness. The ability to forgive is perhaps one of the most important things that we should learn to do in life. However, more important than forgiving others for their offenses against us, we should be able to forgive ourselves for our own shortcomings and misgivings.

Amir has been forgiven by the people he loved, but he was having difficulties with forgiving himself for his sins against his dearest friend. Indeed, none perhaps is more painful than coming to terms with the fact that we have hurt and betrayed the people we love the most. The theme of forgiveness can be seen all throughout the movie. A case in point was Baba’s own sense of remorse and journey to self-forgiveness. Baba is Amir’s father, but unknown to all, he is also the father of Hassan. This secret was not revealed until later in the story and Hassan died without ever knowing that Amir was his half-brother and Baba his real father.

The tragedy of Baba was that he was never able to let Hassan know how he truly feels for him. In the deepest recesses of Baba’s heart, Hassan is the son after his own heart. I can just imagine how painful it must have been for Baba to keep all of these to himself. Eventually, both son and father both found a way to forgive each other for the sins they have committed against each other. But most importantly, both Baba and Amir were able to forgive themselves for sins they have committed against Hassan. By doing so, they were able to redeem themselves and find the peace that has eluded them for most of their lives.

Reading the novel The Kite Runner, I am bombarded by many thoughts all going on at the same time. Among the most persistent of these thoughts are about the lives of people in Afghanistan. How they have managed to survive the ravages of war is testament to the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome the odds and triumph against any challenges. I am humbled by their suffering and inspired to take courage in the face of my own personal problems.

Reading the Kite Runner is one such experience. It is truly an eye-opener because I am given a glimpse into lives, that although are fictional, captures the real-life struggles of the Afghan people. The sufferings and pains of Amir and Hassan are real and are symbolic of Afghanistan as a whole, its violent history and its desire to rise from the ashes of a broken past.  Amir’s journey to redemption is the journey of an entire country trying to make sense of the past even as it tries to claim its future. I hope that just like Amir, Afghanistan too should find its peace and place in the modern world.

Such is the value of reading, it gives me the chance to explore the world and see its diversity, and by that, to realize and celebrate our common humanity. I can read my life away and my life would still have been worthwhile. Reading opens a door to worlds and lives I would never have known otherwise. And my life is so much richer and more wonderful because of it. It has been a truly rewarding and eye-opening experience, and I look forward to taking more enriching journeys with a good book, open mind, and unlimited imagination.

When the Russians invaded Afghanistan, Amir and Baba leave Afghanistan and eventually settled in the United States. From an affluent life in their native country, Amir and Baba find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Baba is forced to work to provide for his family. It must have been a truly humbling and frightening experience for the characters, to leave the only home you know and establish a new life in a strange land. Baba died in the United States without disclosing the truth about Hassan to Amir.

However, truth has a way of revealing itself. After fifteen years of living in America. Amir receives a call that would bring him back to the land of his birth. Amir is told about Hassan’s death and their true relationship to each other. Thus Amir sets on a journey back home to save Hassan’s son from being sent to an orphanage because he has lost both his parents.

For Amir, the journey back to Kabul was a journey deep into himself. He relentlessly searches for nephew, Sohrab and gets him after so many failed and frustrating attempts to do so. This is his way to make things right between him and Hassan. By saving Hassan’s life, Amir seeks to become absolved from all the sins he has committed against Hassan.

Reading this part I wonder what thoughts must have been going through Amir’s mind as he was trying to save Sohrab, Hassan’s son. Not all of us are fortunate enough to be given a second chance like Amir was. And while he may never be able to let Hassan know how he truly feels, Amir is truly blessed to be the father to the son of his brother and best friend.

The symbolism of flying a kite begins and ends this novel. In the beginning Amir is portrayed as having memories of Hassan flying a kite for him. Towards the end of the novel, as Amir tries to adopt and bring Sohrab to America, some complications delayed the process. As a result, Sohrab has to go back to the orphanage while Amir fixes all the necessary papers. This brings Sohrab over the edge and unleashes a flood of repressed memories from the cruel treatment he has experienced in the orphanage. Sohrab runs away and tries to commit suicide, not fully understading Amir’s purpose for bringing him back there. Amir finds Sohrab just in time but Sohrab’s young psyche has been damaged for good and their relationship remains strained. This began to change only when Amir showed Sohrab how to fly a kite and shows Sohrab some of Hassan’s kite-flying tricks. The novel ends with the two flying kites and running with the wind.

So what is it about flying kites? Reflecting on this, I think the kite was symbolic of everything that was innocent and pure and full of promise in all of us. The novel starts with Amir remembering how Hassan flew kites, perhaps in reference to how pure and beautiful their friendship once was and how they once were full of dreams and hopes for each other. The image of a flying kite is symbolic of freedom, freedom from everything that limits us, including our fears and regrets. When Amir flew a kite in the end, it meant that Amir was free at last of his regrets and pains. The kite is free to fly once again means that Amir is once again reunited with Hassan in the person of Sohrab who binds them across time and space and circumstance. They are at last at peace.

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