Notes on The Color Purple Themes

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The Color Purple Topic Tracking: Religion

Religion 1: The book is written in a series of addresses to God. Celie writes to God when she is feeling down or happy, insecure or confused. She wonders what her life will be like in her first letter to God. She believes she is a good girl and wants God to know that.

Religion 2: Celie tells Nettie that she is never alone or hopeless as long as she has God in her life. She writes to God all the time, an act that gives her hope and companionship. She also tells Nettie that she will find help at the home of Reverend Mr._____, the husband of the only nice white woman she has ever met. While Celie finds sanity in writing to God, Nettie finds safety in the home of a man of God.

Religion 3: Celie has trouble sleeping and asks God why she feels so terrible. She thinks she has sinned against someone else, and realizes that it is Sofia against whom she has sinned. She feels horrible for telling Harpo to beat her. After the two women laugh and talk, she feels better. She tells God that after she apologized for her sins, she can sleep again.

Religion 4: The preacher speaks about Shug Avery during his sermons as the object of sin and sexuality. She comes back to town, suffering from venereal disease and becomes the subject of gossip. Meanwhile, Celie becomes a regular church-attendee, pleasing the preacher and helping him with anything necessary to make religion an important presence in town.

Religion 5: Celie addresses God once again in reference to Nettie. She admits that she finally has a letter in her hands from Nettie that has been hidden for years. She is still alive and living well with the Reverend and his wife.

Religion 6: When Nettie runs away from Mr._____ and her father, she finds solace and refuge with a man of religion and a family of God. Samuel and Corrine are Christian missionaries who have devoted their life to God. They welcome Nettie into their family and help teach her about religion and history. She learns about the bible and hears religious stories that somehow seem different now. Furthermore, Samuel and Corrine tell Nettie that their children, Olivia and Adam are gifts from God. They see everything as holy and religious.

Religion 7: Shug and Celie discuss their visions and images of God. Shug claims to be a sinner who does not care about sinning, therefore living a happier life. Celie's image of God is like an old white man, older more exaggerated. However, when Shug speaks about religion, Celie listens and realizes that God may just be something out there to scare everyone. They realize that God is not white; he only just seems that way because of their culture.

Religion 8: At Sofia's mother's funeral, the entire family returns to mourn. Celie notices how Mr._____ has changed into a cleaner, kinder man. He has discovered religion and is trying to become more devout and respectful of God and his family. Although he discovers religion late in life, it still helps him cope with his problems and become closer to his family.

Religion 9: Nettie informs Celie of her plans to open a new church together when they return home. They worship a God without an image, so that they can concentrate on God's presence, as opposed to his invisible spirit.

Religion 10: Celie tries to teach Mr._____ about Nettie's new take on the bible and the story of Adam and Eve. She informs him of whiteness and blackness and the Olinka version of religion. He is intrigued to learn of an entirely new thought process.

Religion 11: Celie returns her thoughts to God by thanking him with all her heart and soul. She is so happy, for her family has returned to her. After years of praying and thinking and wondering, God has helped Celie find true happiness: a family.

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