The first words written by Celie, the novel's protagonist, are "Dear God," and the novel ends with a letter, the salutation of which reads, "Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear Everything. Dear God." This encapsulates The Color Purple's relationship to religion and spirituality: a transition from a belief in a single God, an old white man in a long beard, to a God that exists all around, and is a part of human happiness. Celie begins writing letters to God in order to survive the her father's sexual abuse; she later comes to view God as an outgrowth of nature's beauty, after Shug convinces her that God is more than what white people say, and what church teachings confirm.
Although Shug is not typically religious, she believes strongly that God wants people to be happy, and that God, too, wants to be loved, just as people do. Nettie serves as a missionary to the Olinka people, intending to spread Christianity, but realizes, like her sister, that God is more pervasive, more bound up in nature than some Christian teaching suggests. Even Mr. _____ comes to realize that he behaved evilly as a young man, and his growing belief in the "wonder" of God's creation makes him a better person, and a friend to Celie. Nettie's return to Celie, at the novel's end, confirms that the beauty of family togetherness is one manifestation of God's power on earth.
God and Spirituality ThemeTracker
God and Spirituality Quotes in The Color Purple
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.
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.
What that song? I ast. Sound low down dirty to me. Like what the preacher tell you its sin to hear. Not to mention sing.
She hum a little more. Something come to me, she say. Something I made up. Something you help scratch out my head.
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.
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.
You may have guessed that I loved him all along; but I did not know it. oh, I loved him as a brother . . . but Celie, I love him bodily, as a man! I love his walk, his size, his shape, his smell, the kinkiness of his hair.
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.
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.
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.