The novel's protagonist, at the beginning of the novel Celie is quiet, passive, and able to express herself only through letters to God. As a teenager she is repeatedly raped by her father (later revealed… (read full character analysis)
Celie's more attractive younger sister. Forced to leave first her own home when Pa turns his sexual attention to her and then Mr. _____'s house after he makes sexual advances toward her, Nettie… (read full character analysis)
An abusive husband who emotionally and physically abuses Celie in order to control her. He carries on a relationship with the singer Shug throughout much of their marriage. He has multiple children by multiple women… (read full character analysis)
A singer who is considered a "nasty woman" by those in the community, because she has relationships with numerous men, Shug becomes friends (and, later, lovers) with Celie, teaching Celie about sexuality, love, and… (read full character analysis)
Mr. _____'s oldest son, who is raised by Celie. Harpo is an essentially good man, but he drives Sofia, his first wife, away by trying to get her to "mind" (or obey)… (read full character analysis)
Harpo's second wife, Squeak begins the novel as a physically weak and unimposing woman, who comes into her own over the course of the novel. She later leaves Harpo to run off with Grady… (read full character analysis)
Eleanor Jane, the mayor's daughter, becomes close to Sofia, the woman who raised her. Sofia is civil to Eleanor's husband Stanley Earl, but Sofia refuses to gush and dote upon Reynolds, their son, explaining… (read full character analysis)
A reverend, married to Corrine. Kind and good, Samuel adopts two children, Olivia and Adam, who are given to him by Pa (and who turn out to be Celie's children). He and… (read full character analysis)
Samuel's wife, Corrine doubts, until just before her death, that Samuel is telling the truth about the children—Corrine believes that Samuel and Nettie had an affair, and that Olivia and Adam are therefore Samuel and… (read full character analysis)
Nettie's stepson and Celie's son, Adam grows up in Africa, raised by Nettie, Samuel, and Corrine. After the Olinka woman he loves, Tashi, undergoes the ritual facial scarring of her tribe, and… (read full character analysis)
Celie's sexually-abusive father, Pa is later revealed to be Celie's stepfather, meaning that Celie can inherit her biological father's house and dry-goods business after Pa's death, and that the children she bore as a result of Pa's sexual abuse were not the product of incest.
Sofia's husband after Harpo, Buster is a prizefighter who has Sofia's best interests at heart. He helps to raise their children when Sofia is in prison and when she is working as maid to the mayor's family.
Husband to Shug, Grady is never trusted by Celie or by Mr. _____. It is later revealed that he runs off to Panama with Squeak, in order to work on a marijuana farm.
The Mayor and Miss Millie
The white mayor of the small town near Celie's and Mr.'s property. The Mayor, along with his wife Millie, are genteel and racist, and are the master and mistress of the home in which Sofia works for nearly a dozen years.
Adam's sister, Olivia is recognized by Celie early in the novel as being her biological daughter when she spots her with Corrine in a store, but Olivia is raised by Samuel, Corrine, and Nettie, and is not reunited with Celie until the very end of the book.
An Olinka girl educated in the Western manner, Tashi elects to undergo the ritual female circumcision and face scarring of the Olinka, then feels ashamed of having done so. She ends the novel by marrying Adam and moving to the United States with him, Nettie, and Samuel.
Henrietta and Suzie Q.
Squeak and Harpo's children, Henrietta and Suzie Q. are raised largely by Sofia. Suzie Q. is a gifted singer, and Henrietta suffers from sickle-cell anemia, and is nursed by Sofia and the rest of the family.
Bub and Mr.'s other children
Bub and Mr.'s other children are considered "rotten" by Celie. They are "bad seeds," and they disappear midway through the novel; Bub is always in trouble with the law, and the others merely run away.
Tashi's mother, Catherine does not approve of the Western-style education that Tashi receives from Samuel and Corrine, and eventually goes to live with Tashi among the mbeles, or Africans resisting British rule, in the jungle.
Nettie and Celie's teacher, Miss Beasley pleads with Pa early in the novel to let Celie attend school; but, finding out that Celie is pregnant, Miss Beasley breaks off her protests.
Kate and Carrie
Mr. _____'s sisters, Kate and Carrie help Celie to shop for clothing, since Mr. _____ provides her with almost none at all.
Jack and Odessa
Odessa is Sofia's sister, who helps to raise Sofia's family when Sofia is working as a maid to the mayor. Jack, Odessa's husband, provides the Army pants that serve as a template for the pants Celie makes as part of her company.
Pa's final wife, Daisy is very young at the time of their marriage—not more than fifteen.
Shug has a final fling with Germaine, a young man who settles in Arizona, on a Native American reservation, where he hopes to teach those who live there.
An Englishwoman who traveled to Africa to serve as a missionary, Doris meets Samuel and Nettie on a boat back to England, and shows to them her African grandchildren, much to the scandal of others on the boat.