May 10, 2006

Dear God....

Essay Question: Discuss how the nature and role of God changes through the book and how it relates to the title "The Color Purple".

Celie starts out writing to God because after her stepfather rapes her, he tells her she better talk to God because no one else will listen to someone like her. So in the beginning of the novel, Celie sees God as someone who’ll listen to her and helps her get through the day. She has an image of God as an old white male with long hair and white robes, but she feels something isn’t quite right with that impression. Eventually Celie sees God as someone who behaves like all the other men in her life... the ones who do what they want and don’t listen to black women. Even though she doesn’t feel like God pays attention or listens, Celie maintains her beliefs until Shug challenges her view of God. Shug introduces a new concept of God to Celie. Shug advises Celie to see God not as a man, or a person, but as an “it” – something that takes celebration in creation and wants people to love what’s been created. Shug suggests Celie see the presence of God in everything, and not to be mad at God for the injustices that have happened to her. She tells Celie to take a look around and appreciate the trees, the flowers, the pleasures of life. Celie learns that she doesn’t have to reject God... she can envision him in other things with which she has more of a connection to. Shug teaches Celie that the concept of God is as individual as every person, and everyone should manifest God in their own way. Through these conversations, Shug makes Celie realize that she does not have to blindly accept what’s been told to her.

One of the examples Shug uses to explain God to Celie is someone walking past a field of purple flowers and not noticing the beauty. Shug thinks God gets angry at people who don’t notice the beauty. The color purple is used to represent worthiness, derived from royalty with regal overtones. Every person is a creation of God, just like the purple flowers. Every person is important and worthy of notice. Many people walked by Celie every day and didn’t notice her, just like the field of purple flowers. Shug noticed Celie, and tried to get her to see that like the field of purple flowers, she is also worthy of notice.