“Yeah, I say, and he give me a lynched daddy, a crazy mama, a lowdown dog of a step pa and a sister I probably won’t ever see again. Anyhow, I say, the God I been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgetful and lowdown.” (The Color Purple, Part 4, 1982)
But the friendship with Shug helps Celie to discard this view to a more nuanced understanding of God – one who is beyond gender, race, time or space. What Alice Walker trying to show the reader is the growing maturity and emancipation of Celie through the content of her letters. In other words, her letters reveal the evolution and stirrings of liberation within. Moreover, the letters act as powerful theological symbols, drawing upon the rich tradition of Christian epistolary.
Finally, the color purple is also a thematic element in the story, for it represents the pain and suffering endured by Celie. Drawing upon the idiom ‘beaten black and blue’, purple stands for the color of clotted blood. It is also a symbol of Celie’s sexual and physical violation, as she equates her private parts to this color. But as a reflection of her inner transformation, the color purple is used to represent positive things in life. This is evident in the passage where Shug remarks to Celie in a field of purple flowers thus: “You must look at all the good and acknowledge them because God placed them all on earth”. (The Color Purple, Part 2, 1982) Eggplant, which takes a hue of purple, is referred in a similar context:
“When I see Sofia I don’t know why she still alive. They crack her skull, they crack her ribs. They tear her nose loose on one side. They blind her in one eye. She swole from head to foot. Her tongue the size of my arm, it stick out tween her teef like a piece of rubber. She can’t talk. And she just about the color of a eggplant.” (The Color Purple, Part 2, 1982)
Alice Walker, The Color Purple, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982, ISBN 0151191530.