The Color Purple

The Color Purple

God Symbol Icon
God and Spirituality is a theme of the novel, but God, as discussed primarily by Celie and Shug, functions as a symbol for a far greater, and more diffuse, model of religious experience. At first, Celie believes that God and Jesus are white men. But Shug helps Celie to realize that this, itself, is a symbolic conception of God, one that has been created to suit dominant white interests. Shug says that God can be anything—a feeling of joy or connection with another person, or with nature—and Celie eventually comes to realize that God (whom she addressed in letters for a large part of the novel) is not so much a person or thing as a means toward happiness and fulfillment. It is revealed, coincidentally, that Nettie has developed a similar conception of the divine during her time with the Olinka.

God Quotes in The Color Purple

The The Color Purple quotes below all refer to the symbol of God. 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 1 Quotes

Dear God, I am fourteen years old. I am I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me.

Related Characters: Celie (speaker)
Related Symbols: God
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Letter 3 Quotes

I keep hoping he fine somebody to marry. I see him looking at my little sister. She scared. But I say I'll take care of you. With God help.

Related Characters: Celie (speaker), Nettie, Pa (Alphonso)
Related Symbols: God
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter 14 Quotes

Lord, I want to go [to see Shug Avery] so bad. Not to dance. Not to drink. Not to play card. Not even to hear Shug Avery sing. I just be thankful to lay eyes on her.

Related Characters: Celie (speaker), Shug Avery
Related Symbols: God
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter 53 Quotes

But God, I miss you, Celie. I think about the time you laid yourself down for me. I love you with all my heart.

Related Characters: Nettie (speaker), Celie
Related Symbols: God
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter 58 Quotes

Did I mention my first sight of the African coast? Something struck in me, in my soul, Celie, like a large bell, and I just vibrated. Corrine and Samuel felt the same. And we kneeled down right on deck and gave thanks to God for letting us see the land for which our mothers and fathers cried—and lived and died—to see again.

Related Characters: Nettie (speaker), Samuel, Corrine
Related Symbols: God
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Letter 73 Quotes

She say, My first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other pope. But one day . . it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. It sort of like you know what, she say, grinning and rubbing high up on my thigh.

Shug! I say.

Related Characters: Celie (speaker), Shug Avery (speaker)
Related Symbols: God
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Letter 82 Quotes

Then she took some cedar sticks out of her bag and lit them and gave one of them to me. Us started at the very top of the house . . . and us smoked it all the way down to the basement, chasing out all the evil and making a place for good.

Related Characters: Celie (speaker), Shug Avery
Related Symbols: God
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

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Letter 87 Quotes

But guess what else . . . When the missionaries got to the part bout Adam and Eve being naked, the Olinka peoples nearly bust out laughing . . . They tried to explain . . . that it was they who put Adam and Eve out of the village because they was naked. Their word for naked is white. But since they are covered by color they are not naked.

Related Characters: Nettie (speaker)
Related Symbols: God
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Letter 90 Quotes

And I see they [the children] think that me and Nettie and Shug and Albert and Samuel and Harpo and Sofia and Jack and Odessa real old . . . But I don't think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt.

Related Characters: Celie (speaker), Nettie, Mr. _____ (Albert), Shug Avery, Sofia, Harpo, Samuel, Adam, Olivia, Tashi, Jack and Odessa
Related Symbols: God
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:

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God Symbol Timeline in The Color Purple

The timeline below shows where the symbol God appears in The Color Purple. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Letter 1
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
...main character, who is later revealed to be named Celie, writes a first letter to God, saying that she is fourteen, and that she wonders what is happening to her body.... (full context)
Letter 2
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
...as she is dying, wonders who the father is, and asks Celie. Celie replies that God is the father of the child. Celie's father mourns his wife's passing at her bedside. (full context)
Letter 3
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...designs on her younger sister, Nettie. Celie vows to protect her sister from harm, "with God's help." (full context)
Letter 5
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
...so she changes her mind and tells Nettie to wed Mr. ____ Celie reveals to God that she no longer gets her period, meaning she can no longer become pregnant. (full context)
Letter 11
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...reaches the house of the Reverend and Corrine. But, Celie says, in this letter to God, that Nettie never does write. (full context)
Letter 12
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
...that she knows better how to deal with him. She says, in her letter to God, that she will continue to appease Mr. ____, and to give in to his demands,... (full context)
Letter 22
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...services, and the preacher delivers a sermon chastising a nameless woman who has strayed from God. Shug is the implied subject of this fiery sermon. (full context)
Letter 28
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...wishes to give it to Shug only if it turns out really beautifully. Celie tells God, in the letter, that she now feels closer both to Sofia and to Shug. (full context)
Letter 35
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...mind when Shug sleeps with Mr. ____. But Celie then admits, in the letter to God, that when she hears Shug and Mr. ____ having sex, she touches herself quietly, in... (full context)
Letter 55
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...reports that Samuel and Corrine believe Olivia and Adam have been sent to them by God. Only Nettie knows that Celie is their real mother—but Nettie derives comfort in knowing that... (full context)
Letter 61
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...of life and of earth's abundance: therefore, he goes on, does it not resemble a God? Nettie finds this ceremony, and her entrance into the village, to be a thing of... (full context)
Letter 67
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...offered to take in Adam and Olivia. Samuel told Corrine, simply, that the children were God's gift to them. Samuel never explained to Corrine the circumstances of the children's origin. Nettie... (full context)
Letter 68
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie writes a brief letter to God, in response to Nettie's information, saying she cannot believe that her children were not born... (full context)
Letter 73
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie tells Shug that she no longer writes to God—she writes to Nettie. This letter is addressed to Nettie. Celie says that God would never... (full context)
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie and Shug have a discussion about religion, after Celie decides to stop writing to God. Shug says that, just because she (Shug) has behaved immorally in her life, she is... (full context)
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Shug asks Celie what her God looks like, and Celie replies that her God is a white man. Shug says this... (full context)
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Shug goes on to say that God is inside her and all around, and that she, when younger, went from believing that... (full context)
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie continues, in the letter, by saying to Nettie that she is trying to find God outside of man—to find God in nature, in rocks and trees and grass. But this... (full context)
Letter 86
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...and Samuel worry what is to become of the Olinkans, but they try to find God everywhere—in nature, in the trees, as a way of coping with the horrors they see... (full context)
Letter 89
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...believes it is his religious duty, while on earth, to wonder at the marvels of God's creation, to appreciate the beauty that surrounds him. (full context)
Letter 90
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie addresses this final letter to "God," but this time it is a new God—one of the trees, of the land she... (full context)