Study Guide

The Color Purple Family

By Alice Walker


Letter Ten

I was in town sitting on the wagon while Mr._________ was in the dry good store. I seen my baby girl. I knowed it was her. She look just like me and my daddy. Like more us than us is ourself. She be tagging long hind a lady and they be dress just alike. They pass the wagon and I speak. The lady speak pleasant. My little girl she look up and sort of frown. She fretting over something. She got my eyes just like they is today. Like everything I seen she seen, and she pondering it.

I think she mine. My heart say she mine. But I don’t know she mine. If she mine, her name Olivia. I embroder Olivia in the seat of all her daidies. I embrody lot of little stars and flowers too. He took the daidies when he took her. She was bout two month old. Now she bout six. (10.1-2).

Celie is drawn to her children, drawn to her blood. Though she is the stepmother to Mr.__’s four children, it’s her own children that she loves unconditionally.

Letter Seventeen

Everybody say how good I is to Mr._________ children. I be good to them. But I don’t feel nothing for them. Patting Harpo back not even like patting a dog. It more like patting another piece of wood. Not a living tree, but a table, a chifferobe. Anyhow, they don’t love me neither, no matter how good I is. (17.10)

Unlike Nettie, who loves Celie, Mr.__’s children are not Celie’s family and she doesn’t treat them like family, even though she’s kind to them. Family is more about love than marriage or sharing the same blood.

Letter Eighty-Three

My heart broke.

Shug love somebody else. (83.1-2)

As much as Shug loves Celie, she is not capable of fidelity or monogamy.