The Colour Purple notes

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­­­­The Colour Purple by Alice Walker

Written in 1982 but set between 1910 and 1940 in America (and parts in Africa)

There are no chapters, it is made up of diary entries, most of which are written like letters by Celie (her point of view) to either god or her sister Nettie but later in the book there are letters from Nettie to Celie.


Main characters:


Nettie (her younger sister)

Pa (dad)

Mr.__ , (husband) (called Albert, we never know his last name)

Shug Avery (a singer who is Albert’s mistress, Celie’s friend and lover)

Harpo (Mr.__ ‘s son)

Sofia (Harpo’s wife)



Celie is abused and ***** by her Pa, who takes away her 2 children after they’re born. Eventually, Pa marries Celie off to Mr.__ who abuses her too and simply marries Celie to take care of his four children, look after of his house, and work in his fields.

Celie becomes friends with Shug when she comes to stay when she falls ill, she helps persuade Albert to stop beating Celie and she helps to give Celie hope, she is a strong woman who stands up for herself (as does Sofia), unlike Celie – they become her hope and ‘role models’.

 For a while Nettie lived with Celie and her husband but then he kicked her out, after this Celie doesn’t hear from Nettie for many years (it turns out Mr __ hid her letters from Celie). She becomes a missionary and lives with Corrine and Samuel who coincidently have adopted Celies 2 children, Olivia and Adam, and they all spend many years in Africa. (Nettie’s letters explain her time there with the natives).


Shug and Celie find letters hidden by her husband and read them all and so they both run off back to Shug’s house, leaving Mr__. She finds a talent in making trousers and sells them to make a living, her and Shug have a close relationship and love each other.

Her father dies and she returns home as he left her his house and shop (but it turns out he was only her stepfather and not actually related to her – her father was lynched for having a successful business, her mother married Albert but went crazy and died).

She becomes friends with Albert (he changes and becomes nice) as they are both lonely as she misses Shug.

Finally Nettie, Olivia, Adam and Samuel return home and


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