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The Color Purple Theme of Sex

For much of The Color Purple, Celie sees sex as a form of violence and control, or, at best, as an uninspiring obligation to her husband. That is, until she meets a very inspiring woman named Shug. Shug defines "virginity" as an emotional state, rather than a physical one: If you haven’t enjoyed sex, you’re still a virgin. A pretty different attitude than that of, say, the Duggar family. Shug affirms the goodness of sex by straight-up stating that God created sex for humans to enjoy, and guess what? Celie's down. Although Celie had her physical virginity ripped away from her when she was raped by her stepfather, she gives up her emotional virginity through blissful experiences with Shug. We think it's well-deserved. 

Questions About Sex

  1. Who enjoys sex and who doesn’t? Why?
  2. Is sex associated at all with love? If so, how? If not, why not?
  3. Do other characters agree with Shug that God created sex and it’s a beautiful thing?

Chew on This

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

Although sex is a normal, everyday thing to most characters in this novel, Shug suggests that it transcends the everyday and becomes something sacred and divine.

Although Celie has already had several children and two sexual partners when she meets Shug, she is indeed a virgin.

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