The Color Purple

The Color Purple

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Purple Symbol Analysis

Purple Symbol Icon
The novel, of course, is called The Color Purple, and though the color itself does not appear in many places throughout the text, it is clear that purple is associated with Celie, and with Celie's transformation from a young girl to a mature woman. As Alice Walker writes in a preface to the novel, purple "is always a surprise but is found everywhere in nature." From the beginning, Celie shows that purple is her favorite color—she asks Kate, Mr.'s sister, to buy her clothing and shoes in purple, but they end up being too expensive. When Celie returns to Georgia, after having lived with Shug in a romantic relationship, and having started her own pant-making business, Mr. carves for Celie a purple frog, symbolizing a comment Celie made to Mr. long after her relationship with Shug, saying that men have always reminded her of frogs. Just as Celie always possessed the inner strength necessary to allow her strike out on her own and to break free of Mr.'s and Pa's influence, the color purple is found in nature, in flowers especially, yet it seems an impossible joy, something that ought not to be there—and an indicator of God's influence on earth.

Purple Quotes in The Color Purple

The The Color Purple quotes below all refer to the symbol of Purple. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Pocket Books edition of The Color Purple published in 1985.
Letter 12 Quotes

I can't remember being the first one in my own dress. Now to have one made just for me. I try to tell Kate what it mean. I git hot in the face and stutter.

Related Characters: Celie (speaker), Kate and Carrie
Related Symbols: Purple
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

Katie and Carrie are Mr. ____'s sisters. They are especially kind to Celie, and they do not take pity on her - instead, they seem genuinely to like her, and to want to do nice things for her. They agree to buy Celie some clothes. Celie reveals that she has never purchased her own clothes, indicating the extent to which she has been deprived of any material comfort in her life up till this point. It is also one of the first indications of female friendship for Celie in the novel. Celie is close with her sister, Nettie, and she dreams frequently of Shug, but Katie and Carrie are nice to her for no reason other than wanting to be - and this is a revelation for Celie.

Celie discovers that she loves the color purple, and that she wants shoes of that color, too, but they're too expensive (and she buys blue ones instead). Despite all that she has been through up till this point, Celie possesses a love for life's more whimsical side - and the color purple is an indication of this, and of her desire for independence from the domineering men surrounding her. 

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Purple Symbol Timeline in The Color Purple

The timeline below shows where the symbol Purple appears in The Color Purple. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Letter 12
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...wore in Pa's. Kate takes Celie to buy shoes and a dress. Celie initially wants purple shoes, but their too expensive and so she settles for blue. Celie has never before... (full context)
Letter 89
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...to college. Celie shows Shug her room in the new house, Celie's house, now painted purple and red, and displays a purple frog that Albert has carved for her. This frog... (full context)