The Color Purple
How we cite our quotes:
Fine, she say. Fine. Well git in.
Well, say Sofia, I was so use to sitting up there next to her teaching her how to drive, that I just naturally clammed into the front seat.
She stood outside on her side the car clearing her throat.
Finally she say, Sofia, with a little laugh, This is the South.
Yes ma’am, I say.
She clear her throat, laugh some more. Look where you sitting, she say.
I’m sitting where I always sit, I say.
That’s the problem, she say. Have you ever seen a white person and a colored lady sitting side by side in a car, when one of ‘em wasn’t showing the other one how to drive it or clean it? (44.20-27)
Sofia describes a moment of social awkwardness when the mayor’s wife insists upon typical social protocol. Even the external semblance of racial equality is not to be tolerated by the mayor’s wife.
Oh, Celie, there are colored people in the world who want us to know! Want us to grow and see the light! They are not all mean like Pa and Albert, or beaten down like Ma was. Corrine and Samuel have a wonderful marriage. Their only sorrow in the beginning was that they could not have children. And then, they say, "God sent them Olivia and Adam. (55.13)
Nettie learns that the cruelty she experienced as a child is not the way of the world, nor the way of black folks as a whole; it is simply the way of her father and Celie’s husband.
Think what it means that Ethiopia is Africa! All the Ethiopians in the bible were colored. It had never occurred to me, though when you read the bible it is perfectly plain if you pay attention only to the words. It is the pictures in the bible that fool you. The pictures that illustrate the words. All of the people are white and so you just think all the people from the bible were white too. But really white people lived somewhere else during those times. That’s why the bible says that Jesus Christ had hair like lamb’s wool. Lamb’s wool is not straight, Celie. It isn’t even curly. (56.3)
Nettie describes how overjoyed she was to realize that the Bible is full of black people – just like her. One manifestation of racism had just been that white people had whitewashed the bible.