Notes on The Color Purple Themes

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The Color Purple Topic Tracking: Sexuality

Sexuality 1: The book opens with a painful sexual crime. Young Celie is raped by who she believes to be her father, while her mother is at the doctor's office. This physical act of violence is Celie's first experience and introduction to sexuality.

Sexuality 2: Celie marries Mr.____ in a loveless, rapid ceremony. The first evening of their marriage is spent with Celie working and Mr._____ pleasuring himself on top of her. Celie thinks to herself that if the famous Shug Avery enjoyed herself sexually with Mr.____, so can she.

Sexuality 3: When Sofia first meets Harpo's family, she is pregnant. Mr.____ thinks negatively of her because of her unwed pregnancy, thinking her an immoral, loose woman with poor sexual morals. He also believes her to be an attractive woman who can betray Harpo with any man. He thinks women can use their sexuality as a weapon, and sees Sofia as practically a commander of the sexual army.

Sexuality 4: When Shug Avery decides to sing at Harpo's, the juke joint becomes an instant success. Her sexuality sells his product, brining crowds to the place. Celie attends opening night to see Shug onstage. She finds herself attracted to this woman, yet realizes that Shug is only attracted sexually to her husband, Mr._____.

Sexuality 5: When Shug questions Celie about her relationship with Mr.____, she realizes that Celie is practically a virgin. She has never had sex with someone she loves, and furthermore, has never had physical pleasure. Shug teaches Celie about her female body and tells her to examine her 'button' and breasts. Celie beams with excitement upon learning of such great aspects of sexuality and her own body.

Sexuality 6: Celie looks around at all the men gazing at Shug's tight dress and beautiful bosom. She thinks the same way they do and wants to tell Shug that she is a real good time. She becomes sexually attracted to Shug as she sees her sing in front of the crowd at Harpo's.

Sexuality 7: Hodges the warden sees Squeak and rapes her. He uses sexuality as his method of forcefulness and violence. Rape is repeatedly used in the novel as a form of violence and aggression, making lovemaking and sensuality an idea of legendary proportion.

Sexuality 8: Shug reveals her sexual attraction to Celie when she claims she would cover her with kisses and licks if they were married. She continues investigate Celie's sexual identity and attempts at lovemaking with Mr._____. After Celie admits to failure in the bedroom, Shug claims she is still a virgin.

Sexuality 9: Shug reminisces of her early courtship with Albert. She remembers always wanting to make love to him, never caring about anyone else. She adds to the conversation how little to nothing she cares about him now.

Sexuality 10: When Celie sleeps next to Shug, she is no longer sexuality excited, and is consequently worried about her sexual identity and excitability. Shug calms her by simply explaining that her anger is overtaking her sexual urges. She knows Celie will get them back soon enough.

Sexuality 11: Nettie and Samuel's relationship changes from platonic to romantic/sexual. They fall in love, marry, and are therefore forced to leave their position in Olinka. Meanwhile, Adam develops the same romantic/sexual feelings for Tashi that Nettie and Samuel have developed, and is terrified about her decision to destroy part of her sexual identity through ceremonial female circumcision.

Sexuality 12: Celie is miserable when Shug decides to leave her for a young man named Germaine. Shug tries to express her desire to sleep with a man after so many years of sleeping with Celie alone. Shug's sexuality travels far beyond simply men or women - she loves both.

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