Study Guide

Harpo in The Color Purple

By Alice Walker


Harpo has some issues. Naturally, he’s a really nice guy and enjoys domestic activities like cooking and taking care of the house. However, because society and his father’s behavior tell him that the domestic realm is for women only, Harpo runs into a lot of unnecessary conflict in life. If left to his own devices, he’d be happy to be in a harmonious relationship with his wife, Sofia. However, believing that "manly" men dominate their wives, he’s constantly causing himself marital problems.

Over the course of the book, Harpo begins to feel more comfortable with himself and realizes that he’s pretty happy being a stay-at-home dad. Harpo is one of the numerous examples in this novel of characters not fitting into the gender roles.