The Color Purple
How we cite our quotes:
I don’t write to God no more. I write to you.
What happen to God? ast Shug.
Who that? I say.
She look at me serious.
Big a devil as you is, I say, you not worried bout no God, surely.
She say, Wait a minute. Hold on just a minute here. Just because I don’t harass it like some peoples us know don’t mean I ain’t got religion.
What God do for me? I ast.
She say, Celie! Like she shock. He gave you life, good health, and a good woman that love you to death.
Yeah, I say, and he give me a lunched daddy, a crazy mama, a lowdown dog of a step pa and a sister I probably won’t ever see again. Anyhow, I ay, the God I been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgetful and lowdown.
She say, Miss Celie, You better hush. God might hear you. Let ‘im hear me, I say. If he ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different place, I can tell you. (73.1-12)
Celie directs her anger about her life not at the people who have harmed her, but at God. In her mind, God has ignored her, and therefore she will ignore him. Also, Celie sees God as a man, and men have never been good to her in her entire life.
Then she [Shug] tell me this old white man is the same God she used to see when she prayed. If you wait to find God in church, Celie, she say, that’s who is bound to show up, cause that’s where he live.
How come? I ast.
Cause that’s the one that’s in the white folks’ white bible.
Shug! I say. God wrote the bible, white folks had nothing to do with it.
How come he look just like them, then? She say. Only bigger? And a heap more hair. How come the bible just like everything else they make, all about them doing one thing and another, and all the colored folks doing is gitting cursed?
I never thought about that.
Nettie say somewhere in the bible it say Jesus’ hair was like lamb’s wool, I say.
Well, say Shug, if he came to any of these churches we talking bout he’d have to have it conked before anybody paid him any attention. The last thing niggers want to think about they God is that his hair kinky.
That’s the truth, I say.
Ain’t no way to read the bible and not think God white, she say. Then she sigh. When I found out I thought God was white, and a man, I lost interest. You mad cause he don’t seem to listen to your prayers. Humph! Do the mayor listen to anything colored say? (73.28;35-44)
Shug points out that the reason Celia has lost her faith in God is because she has the wrong idea about God—she believes that God is a white man and treats her just like white men do, like she’s trash, like she’s beneath him. Shug, though she believes in God, sees the bible and organized religion as just another way for white society to oppress blacks.
Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit.
It? I ast.
Yeah, It. God ain’t a he or a she, but a It.
But what do it look like? I ast.
Don’t look like nothing, she say. (73.46-50)
According to Shug, God has no gender and no race. God is something inside of every person.