The first few pages begin Walkers narrative of the life of Celie, a
fourteen-year-old black girl who lives with her dying mother and her sister, Nettie. Her stepfather, Alfonso, is portrayed as the
villain of the narrative, first demanding sex from Celies sick mother and then
demanding it from young Celie herself.
The reader is struck by the colloquial, black-southern language of the text, as well as
the graphic scenes of sexual abuse. Celie
writes her story in the form of letters addressed to God.
It seems she can trust no one else with her secrets.
Soon Celies mother dies, leaving her to
tend to the family. The pattern of abuse from
Alfonso, usually described as he, continues, eventually leaving Celie twice
pregnant. Her first baby is taken by Alfonso
and killed, while her second child seems to have been sold by her stepfather. Celie hides all this from her dying mother
however, saying that God took the children.
Eventually Alfonso comes home with a young girl
who is apparently his new wife. Nettie, at
the same time, seems to have become an older mans girlfriend. Celie hopes that Nettie will marry Mr. __ (this
older man) because she wants to protect her younger sister from Alfonso, who seems to be
thinking about raping her as well.
Celie believes that she can no longer have
children. This pleases her, since she hates
always being big.
Finally Alfonso tries to persuade Mr. __ to
marry Celie instead of Nettie. Afer several
months of consideration, Mr. __ finally agrees, saying that he needs a mother for his
children. It seems that Celie is very
hard-working and good with children, though very ugly.
Her main draw-back is the fact that she spoils the children, always giving
them what they want. Perhaps this is because
she was so neglected and abused as a child-- she wants to give the other children what was
never given her.
As in her old home, Celie isnt treated
very well as the wife of Mr. __. He treats
her like a possession and his children seem to boss her around as if shes their
Later, on another occasion, Celie thinks she
sees her daughter who was sold six years before. At
a market, she sees this child, Olivia, with her mother, who seems to have a lot of money. This woman seems quite friendly to Celie.
Soon Nettie runs away from her home, seeking
refuge with Celie and her new family. After
staying a few days, Mr. __ finally forces her to leave.
This is the last time the two sisters see each other: soon Celie will learn
that her sister is dead, killed for being disobedient and running away.
Most of the rest of the section is devoted to
the description of Shug Avery, a local celebrity of sorts who sings and dances. She is described by Celie as the most beautiful
woman she has ever seen. But this woman
isnt an innocent hero by any stretch of the imagination. It seems she has had past affairs with Mr. __,
Celies new husband. Nevertheless, Celie
is enthralled by this new woman idol, and hopes to see her in person.