In Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel, The Color Purple, Celie is a woman who learns to stand up for herself. But when Steven Spielberg made his 1985 film version, he watered down the character (played by Whoopi Goldberg), a change reflected in the cover of the ubiquitous tie-in paperback showing a silhouette of Celie sitting meekly in her rocking chair.
Now Walker is putting a different face on Celie. In May, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich is bringing out a 10th-anniversary edition of The Color Purple. The cover will be a photocollage by Joan Eda that Walker bought in a San Francisco art gallery owned by Danny Glover’s wife, Asake. To Walker, the work represents the true Celie — a bold woman in batik pants.
”Alice believes that an idea of Celie has already been planted by Spielberg and his movie,” says an HBJ spokeswoman. ”She wants to give readers her own concept of what Celie looks like and of how she evolves during thel.” Celie’s offspring and other Color Purple characters will evolve further in Walker’s next book, Possessing the Secret of Joy, due out in June.