Love, in The Color Purple is not only romantic, but the love that exists within families as well. The protagonist’s first experience with love is her love for her little sister. Her love is displayed through selfless sacrifices for her sister’s wellbeing. For the majority of her life, the protagonist’s only receives love from her sister and only gives love to her sister; both the protagonist’s father and husband and are anything but loving to her. 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.
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.