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The Color Purple

The Color Purple


by Alice Walker

The Color Purple Theme of Love

The Color Purple can be a harsh read at times, but it's ultimately a book about the power of love—both romantic and familial. Celie's first experience with love comes from her relationship with her little sister Nettie, whom she fiercely protects, even when it means sacrificing her own wellbeing. For the majority of Celie's life, Nettie is the only person she loves—and is also the only one to return the feeling to Celie. Celie's father and husband are anything but loving to her, and she experiences romantic love for the first time with another woman. In this novel, love isn’t necessarily about fidelity, and certainly isn’t about gender or marriage. Love is about self-sacrifice, respect, and unconditional care.

Questions About Love

  1. Who is loved and who loves in The Color Purple? What are the different types of love? Ultimately, is sexual love very important in this novel?
  2. What are different characters’ definitions of love?
  3. Is love faithful and constant—or fickle? Or both? Why?
  4. Celie says that Shug is good at loving people. In what ways is this the case?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Though Celie was abused and love-starved, her relationship with Nettie prepared her for true love when it finally came around.

Although Shug loved many and loved well, she was unable to love one at a time. Thus, The Color Purple seems to make the argument that healthy love is not necessarily monogamous.

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