The Color Purple

The Color Purple

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The Color Purple Letter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Celie, out in town one day (the "town" is not named explicitly, but it is probably Monticello), thinks she sees her child Olivia with another woman—the child's stepmother (later revealed to be the Reverend's wife, Corrine). Celie has not seen Olivia since shortly after the child was born. Celie believes she knows it is Olivia because of the color of the girl's eyes.
Celie's attachment to her daughter is extremely strong, so strong that Celie believes she recognizes Olivia merely by the color and shape of her eyes, even though Celie has not seen her daughter since she was very, very young—perhaps only several days old.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie follows Olivia and her stepmother into a store. Celie asks who the child's father is, and the woman replies that it's the Reverend Mr. ____ (later revealed to be Samuel). This last name is unfamiliar to Celie.
One of the novel's great coincidences: the Reverend who takes in Adam and Olivia also will take in Nettie and allow her to go to Africa. Of course, Celie aids this coincidence by telling Nettie to go to the Reverend's household when Nettie is running away from Mr. ____. It is unclear whether Celie does this knowing that the Reverend and Corrine have adopted Adam and Olivia.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
The Reverend is not yet present to pick up his wife and daughter, so Celie invites them into her husband's wagon, waiting outside the store. They sit together for a moment. The Reverend's wife asks about Celie's husband, and, finding out who it is, says Mr. ____ is a handsome man. Celie thinks to herself that she cannot tell when men are handsome.
One of the interesting undercurrents in the novel is Mr. ____'s attractiveness. Everyone in town seems to acknowledge he is a good-looking man; this is one of the reason's Shug finds him so physically irresistible.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie asks the mother the girl's name, and the mother says "Pauline," but that they call her Olivia, because they feel that the child looks like an Olivia. (It is later revealed that they adopted the child knowing her name was Olivia). Celie is shocked by this information, and happy that the child is in fact hers, but the Reverend quickly arrives and takes Olivia and his wife away in his wagon.
Another coincidence. It is not clear whether or not Pa gave Olivia to Samuel and Corrine saying that the child's name was Olivia. If not, then it is perhaps difficult to believe that the Reverend and his wife would settle on the exact name Celie chose. But in either case, Olivia and Adam seem fated to have a more stable and secure upbringing than Celie could provide.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
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