Study Guide

The Color Purple Marriage

By Alice Walker


In The Color Purple, most of the marriages we see are pretty miserable. Married people rarely love each other and, even when they do, they use violence to try to control their spouse’s behavior. Romantic relationships also aren’t limited to marriage. This book is full of characters fluidly trading spouses and lovers. The one stable marriage we see exists between Nettie and the Reverend, but their relationship isn’t necessarily better or happier than Celie's relationship with Shug. We don't know about you, but we think Walker might have some things to say about marriage. This gets us thinking—is marriage really all it's cracked up to be?

Questions About Marriage

  1. Does anybody have a happy marriage?
  2. Marriage, it is often said, is not about love. It’s about helping people grow and about raising children. Is this statement true in The Color Purple? Why or why not?
  3. If you were to write a definition of marriage after reading this novel, what would it be?
  4. Why does Celie choose not to re-marry Mr.__/Albert when he proposes to her near the end of the novel?

Chew on This

In The Color Purple, marriage is an institution that serves few purposes other than a method and a means for men to control women.

Though men and women take marriage seriously in The Color Purple, it does not imply monogamy.