Summary Behind The Color Purple English Literature Essay

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The book is a diary from a fourteen year old girl named Celie. She is being mistreated by her father. He rapes her and abused her. She can't talk to anyone about this, except with god. Everything that happens she writes in her diary. One person who handles their father very well is her mother, but unfortunately she dies after a while. After her mother died, Celie was being abused more often. There was an elderly man (Mr.___ )who wanted to marry Nettie (Celie's little sister). Celie's Father gave her instead of Nettie.

When Celie married Mr.___ it became even worse. The man beats her up even more. Nettie came to live at Celie's house, but Mr.___ send her away because they had a fight. He threatened Celie that she can't have anymore contact with her sister.

Mr.___ falls in love wits a singer named Shug Avery. When Shug gets sick the man takes her home and after a short time Shug and Celie became friends.

Nettie came back to the family, but she was more a maid for the family then a guest. When she came she had two adopted children with her. Later it turns out that it were Celie's children. First Nettie thought that the children were from her dad, but later she found out it were her stepfathers kids.


Celie is a very dependent and easily manipulated girl. Many people use her because of this, like her father sexually abused her.

She is the oldest at home and there for she does the housekeeping, instead of following her dreams to go study. She is very suspicious to others, so she writes letter to god. Later in the book she is a happy independent woman.

She has short, black hair. Mr.___ says that cutting her hair brings bad luck, that's why she shaves it.

Nettie is Celies younger sister. She is very attentive, caring and has great interest, black people. Mr.___ was more interested in marrying her then Celie, because she is prettier, they called Celie ugly. Nettie helps Celie with learning how to spel.

Mr.___ (Albert) is Celies man. Albert was married before, but his wife was murdered by a lover. He actually seeks a relationship with Nettie, but settles for Celie. Albert mistreats Celie just as her father had, and she allows it. Albert uses Celie to help raise his children. Shug leads Albert to start treating Celie better. Later Albert realizes that he has mistreated Celie and seeks a friendship with her.

Title explanation

The color purple stands for independence and liberation of one's mind and feelings. It plays an important role in Celie's and Shug's life. When Celie can choose a dress for the first time in her life, she chooses a purple one. In her house Celie has a purple room. When Shug explains to Celie how important freedom is, she says: "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."


The theme of the book is to defend yourself even if people do not respect you. Think about the exploitation of the women in the book like Celie. In the beginning Celie takes all the shit but at last she defends herself and loves herself even if some people don't respect her.

Own opinion

I thought it was a beautiful book. She had a lot of things happen to her that she couldn't do anything about or that she could control. The only thing she could do was keep on moving forwards, finding condolence and a listening ear in God. The style in which the book was written was very typical because the author tried to make the story as real as possible. She did that by writing it in old English and with a lot of grammar faults and mistakes because Celie didn't had no education. In the beginning that was a little bit hard but when you were familiar to that writing style it was a great book to read.


The book starts on a farm down in the Southern United States at the beginning of the 20th century. Celie, a 14 year old girl lives there with her father and brothers and sister. She and her sister care a lot about each other. She is being mistreated by her father. He rapes her and abused her. She can't talk to anyone about this, except with god. Everything that happens she writes in her diary.

Celie is not allowed to go to school, and as a result has a poor education. In the church there is a man who always looks at Nettie. His name is Mr.___. Mr.__ finally comes to the house of Celie and Nettie. He asks for Nettie's hand. Father refuses it, but promises him a cow if he marries Celie. Mr.__ accepts the offer and marries Celie. He doesn't love Celie, but his wife died and he wants a woman to keep the house for him and look after his four children.

Nettie runs away from home and comes to Celie. She stays with Celie and her family. But Celie's husband tries to seduce her, so Nettie leaves, promising that she will write till her death. But Celie never received a letter.

Harpo, Mr__'s son, decides he wants to marry a girl named Sofia. His father forbids him to get married, but he does it anyway and they are going to live on the land near Celie's house.

Mr__ is always talking and fantasising about a woman called Shug Avery. He loves her very much. A little later Shug comes to visit Mr__. After a while Shug becomes very ill and Celie has to take care of her. During this period Celie and Shug become good friends. They discuss many things together.

When Shug is in the house, Mr__ doesn't beat or abuse Celie , Shug forbids him to do that. Even when she leaves he treats Celie well. Celie learns a lot about Shug and gets more confidence. In the time that Celie and Shug become friends, Sophia leaves Harpo and moves in with her sister Odessa. After Sofia has left, Harpo opens up a bar called jukejoint. Shug is a good blues singer and she sings in the jukejoint. If Shug wasn't singing there wouldn't be so many people coming.

Shug always writes letters to Mr__. One day she says that she is coming back. When she comes back she is married to a man, Grady. Mr__ and Grady are drunk all the time. In that time Celie tells Shug about her family, that her mother has died and that her sister has ran away.

After a while Shug discovers that Mr____ has been hiding all the letters from Nettie to Celie. Celie starts reading the letters and reads about Nettie's life. Nettie lives with a woman (Corrine) her husband (Samuel a reverend) and two adopted children, Olivia and Adam. These two children turn out to be Celie's children. Corrine hears from Nettie on her deathbed that Adam and Olivia are actually Celie's children and Samuel tells Nettie that her father isn't her real father. Their real father was killed in a execution when they were very young.

When Celie reads her father isn't her real father she decides to go back to Shug's house in Memphis. In Memphis Celie starts to make pants for a hobby and finally she starts running a shop in pants. Shug falls in love, with a 19 year old boy and goes with him, promising Celie that she would come back. Celie doesn't believe her, but she decides to live her own life. She is going to live in her old house, because her stepfather died. The house used to belong to her 'real father' and he left it to his children. Sofia is moving in with Celie.

Mr___ realises that he has treated Celie very wrong and he and Celie become friends. Their relationship is based on their love for Shug. Finally Shug returns to Celie and Mr__, Celie and Shug are reunited. One day Nettie, Samuel, Olivia, Adam and his wife return. Celie is totally surprised and she is very happy to see them.

The last letter of the book is a letter to God, but with Celie's new look at the world. In this letter she thanks god for bringing Nettie back to her. At the end of the book Celie is full of confidence and love for life, others and herself.