Study Guide

The Color Purple Religion

By Alice Walker


Celie narrates The Color Purple through a series of letters, most of which are addressed to God. She initially imagines God as an old white man, something like Dumbledore or Gandalf. But as a black woman who's been abused by men all her life, Celie eventually begins to rebel against this image of God. She begins to see God as genderless and raceless, a more universal being who wants humans to enjoy all aspects of life—from nature to sex to the color purple. Sure, this may be a different expression of spirituality than we're used to seeing, but we find it pretty darn inspiring. What would your God look like?

Questions About Religion

  1. Are the characters in The Color Purple religious? Why or why not?
  2. Does religion help any of the characters work through their problems or bear their suffering?
  3. Are religion and faith the same thing to these characters?
  4. How do Celie's, Nettie's, and Samuel’s ideas about God and religion change over the course of the novel?

Chew on This

Though both Nettie and Celie make peace with God and their faith, they ultimately have no use for organized religion.