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The Color Purple

The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Rebirth

Falling Stage

Celie’s children are stolen by her Pa and either killed or given away. Then she’s married off to a man no better than her Pa.

Celie’s life story begins in darkness and continues in darkness. She is raped, her children are stolen from her, and she’s forced to perpetually sacrifice herself in order to protect her sister Nettie. Celie has no person she can turn to for help – except God. So she starts to write letters to God. These letters provide the impetus for her to communicate her story from beginning to end.

Recession Stage

Nettie comes to stay with Celie and the two girls love each other.

Celie gets married to a jerk but at least she now has a home where she can invite Nettie to stay, a place safe from Pa. As horrible as Celie’s life is, she is able to move on with hope because her sister is still in her life.

Imprisonment Stage

Mr.__ kicks Nettie out and life with Mr.__ quickly becomes unbearable.

Celie’s life is a living hell. Mr. kicks Nettie out of the house because she refuses to sleep with him or give him any kind of encouraging attention. Celie is left alone in a house where no one loves her and she loves no one. All she can do is survive.

Nightmare Stage

Mr.__ brings his mistress home and expects Celie to nurse Shug back to health.

Celie’s life actually gets a little better during this stage because she quickly becomes fascinated by and falls in love with Shug. The only problem is, Shug spends her time and her love on Mr.__. Though Celie and Shug eventually become friends, Celie is jealous of Shug’s love for Mr.__ and later of Shug’s husband, Grady. Meanwhile, Celie is still separated from the one person who has loved her all her life: Nettie. And she is still under the power of Mr.__.

Rebirth Stage

Celie discovers that Mr. has been hiding letters from Nettie for years. It unleashes a maelstrom of anger and righteousness that work to transform Celie into a person of passion, strength, and love.

When Shug and Celie discover Nettie’s letters – oh, that changes everything. Celie discovers Pa wasn’t her real father and that frees her of the shame of incest. She realizes that Mr.__ is evil for purposefully separating her from Nettie, and that frees her from an obligation to him. Celie leaves Mr.__ and begins her own life, a life free of beatings and bad sex, a life full of someone she loves (Shug) and great sex. Although that doesn’t last, Celie has found peace, a sense of self, and even learns forgiveness. Eventually, Mr.__ changes and the two become friends—just in time for Nettie to return home. When Nettie returns home, Celie owns her own home and a successful small business. With Nettie, Celie’s life seems complete. In fact, she remarks that though they may seem old to the youngsters in their lives, they have never felt younger. The rebirth is true and complete.

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