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What is celie’s story in the color purple?

The Color Purple by Alice Walker tells the story of Celie, a young black woman living in the rural American South during the early 1900s. Throughout the novel, Celie endures abuse, oppression, and hardship, but she also experiences personal growth and empowerment. Her story is one of both suffering and triumph.

Celie’s Childhood and Early Life

Celie grows up poor in the rural Georgia. She is repeatedly raped by her stepfather, who she refers to only as “Pa.” Pa rapes Celie and impregnates her twice, taking her babies away from her soon after they are born. Celie is uneducated and does not know where her children have gone. She writes letters to God, her only confidant, about her experiences.

When Celie is 14, Pa decides to marry her off to a local widower named Albert, who is looking for someone to care for his children and cook and clean. Albert, known as “Mr. _____”, treats Celie like a servant and abuses her physically, sexually and emotionally. However, the marriage allows Celie to escape her stepfather’s house.

Celie’s Marriage to Albert

For over a decade, Celie lives miserably with Albert. He and his children, Harpo and Sofia, continue to mistreat her. Celie’s sister Nettie comes to live with them briefly, but Albert lusts after Nettie and tries to attack her. Nettie flees to Africa to become a missionary, and Celie believes she will never see her sister again.

Celie has no friends or allies, except for Shug Avery, Albert’s mistress. When Shug first stays with them, she is cruel to Celie. However, the two women ultimately become very close friends. Shug helps Celie realize her own worth and individuality. This is an important turning point in Celie’s personal growth.

Celie’s Growth and Empowerment

Several key events help empower Celie and set her on a path of independence and fulfillment:

  • Shug helps Celie enjoy sex for the first time.
  • Celie discovers that Albert has been hiding Nettie’s letters for decades.
  • Celie leaves Albert and moves to Memphis with Shug.
  • She starts a successful business making pants.
  • She learns that her children are alive.

In Memphis, Celie puts her creative talents to use by designing and sewing pants. This gives her a sense of purpose and achievement. She also meets other independent, spirited women. With her new friends and business success, Celie gains confidence.

Reunification with Nettie and Her Children

Near the end of the novel, Nettie returns from Africa. She and Celie enjoy a happy reunion. Nettie also brings Celie’s biological children with her, a son and a daughter, now young adults. Celie is overjoyed to finally have her family together after so many years of separation and hardship.

In The Color Purple’s final scene, Celie is content and fulfilled, having survived abuse and trauma to reunite with her loved ones. She has found independence, community with other women, and success on her own terms. Her story is one of hope and resilience.

Key Themes in Celie’s Story

Several important themes emerge in Celie’s transformative journey over the course of the novel:

Sexism and Gender Inequality

Celie suffers oppression and abuse from the men in her life, reflecting the patriarchal society she lives in. Her story depicts the struggles faced by women at the time.

Sisterhood and Female Relationships

Celie’s relationships with Nettie and Shug are a source of strength and solidarity. The novel emphasizes the importance of female community.

Racism and Inequality

As poor, black women in the segregated South, Celie and Nettie experience racism and discrimination. The novel portrays these systemic injustices.

Self-Discovery and Personal Growth

A major theme in The Color Purple is Celie’s journey to independence, confidence and a realized sense of self. She undergoes profound personal growth and empowerment.

Hope and Redemption

Despite the trauma and adversity Celie endures, her story ultimately conveys a message of hope and redemption, as she heals, reunites with family, and finds fulfillment.


In The Color Purple, Celie represents the countless marginalized women who endured mistreatment and restriction. Her resilient spirit prevails despite years of abuse and trauma. Celie’s story powerfully depicts both the oppression of black women in the early 20th century, and their ability to emerge empowered.

Through Celie’s experiences with abuse, friendship, independence, and her journey of self-discovery, The Color Purple conveys themes of sexism, racism, inequality, sisterhood, and personal growth. Above all, Celie’s story is one of hope, inner strength and redemption.