© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Color Purple

The Color Purple


by Alice Walker

The Color Purple Theme of Women and Femininity

In The Color Purple, many female characters are faced with a tough choice: fiercely (and sometimes unsuccessfully) fight against men's attempts to oppress them, or completely submit and get trampled all over. How's that for a cruddy situation? The only women able to stand up for themselves without severe repercussions are the ones who are economically independent, and they're few and far between. Women’s situations can improve, however, when women band together and support each other—like when Destiny's Child banded together and sang this classic song. All the women who independent: Throw your hands up at us.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What does it mean to be a woman in this novel? What do men think of women? What do women think of other women?
  2. Do women find comfort and solidarity with other women?
  3. Which women present strong figures? Is their behavior to be emulated?
  4. Is there a woman held up as the epitome of womanhood in this novel? Who is it and why is she the model? Do you think she’s a good model of femininity?

Chew on This

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

Although women are universally oppressed in The Color Purple, all of them learn to stick up for themselves. Ultimately, men fail to hold onto their power because the women in their lives refuse to abide by it.

In The Color Purple, men see women as objects to control; to have a healthy relationship, the book implies that most of these women have to turn to other women, like Shug and Celie.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...