The Color Purple

Character analysis


Celie is the main character and has been oppressed by men her whole life. She is raped by her step father with whom she has two children during her adolescence. Her step father gives away her two children. Her father gives her away to be married to Mr.___ He is in love with Shug Avery, a blues singer. Shug stays with Mr. ___ and Celie, this leads to a sexual relationship between Celie and Shug. Shug has a significant influence on the protagonist and Celie begins to model herself after following her views and opinions, leading her ultimately to a life of independence. Shug influences not only the way that Celie allows Mr.___ to treat her, but also her showing Celie that it is all right to commit actions which others may call 'sin', but still believe in and live for God, she broadens Celie's views on religion and ethics. It is also Shug who frees Celie from Mr.___'s bondage, first by loving her, then by helping her to start a custom sewing business. From Shug, Celie learns that Albert has been hiding letters written to her from Africa by her sister Nettie, a missionary. These letters, full of educated, first hand observation of African life, form a moving counterpoint to Celie's life. They reveal that in Africa, just as in America, women are persistently oppressed by men.[9]


Nettie is Celie's younger sister, whom Celie loves and saves from living the tragic life that she had to endure. Because Nettie is prettier than Celie, who has been deemed ugly, Mr.___ is originally interested in Nettie as a wife, but settles for Celie. Nettie runs away from home to be with Celie, but is unable to stay with Celie as Mr.___ tries to get physically attached to her again. As a result, Nettie leaves home and before leaving she promises to write to Celie and tells her that only death can keep them apart. Nettie is eventually taken in by Samuel and Corrine, a missionary couple, with whom she travels to Africa as a missionary. While in Africa, Nettie becomes the caregiver of Samuel and Corrine's children and faithfully writes to Celie for decades. Nettie marries Samuel after Corrine's death and moves back to America with Celie's children. Through explaining her experiences to Celie, Nettie encourages Celie to be more enthusiastic and optimistic about life. Nettie finds that while there is not racial disparity in Africa, gender disparity exists. The women of the tribe are not treated as equals, and are not permitted to attend school.

Shug Avery

A sultry blues singer who first appears as Mr.___'s mistress, Shug becomes Celie's friend and eventually her lover. Shug remains a gentle mentor who helps Celie evolve into an independent and assertive woman. At first, Shug doesn't appear to be the mothering and nurturing kind, yet she nurtures Celie physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Shug helps Celie discover the long lost letters from her sister Nettie that Mr.___ had been hiding for decades. In allowing Celie to view these letters, Shug is supplying her with even more hope and inspiration, letting Celie see that in the end, everything works out for the best.

Albert (known as Mr.___)

Mr.___ is the man to whom Celie is married. Originally, he seeks a relationship with Nettie but settles for Celie. Mr.___ mistreats Celie just as her stepfather had, although Celie does not understand that she doesn't have to tolerate the abuse. Mr.___ uses Celie to help raise his children, who give her a hard time because she is not their biological mother. When Shug Avery comes to town, Mr.___ falls for her and makes her his mistress. Through Shug's seductive and manipulative influence, Albert begins to treat Celie better. In the end Albert realizes that he has mistreated Celie and seeks a friendship with her.

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