"I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it."
— Shug Avery
A 1982 novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple
was later made into a 1985 film and a 2005 musical. In particular, the film version was director Steven Spielberg
's first pure-drama film and the film debuts of Whoopi Goldberg
and Oprah Winfrey
When we first see the protagonist, Celie, she's fourteen and twice pregnant by her father. Her "Pa" then forces her into a marriage with "Mister," a widower far more interested in her younger sister, Nettie. Fortunately, Celie finds friends with Mister's old flame, Shug Avery, and Sofia, the strong-willed wife of Mister's son Harpo. These friends help Celie find the strength to become her own woman throughout the thirty years the story takes place.
This Novel and Film contain examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Pa.
- Ambiguously Gay: Shug in the books. Celie notes how she doesn't act like normal women and generally seems more manly. It is finally confirmed with Shug and Celie's romance.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: It's revealed that Albert's evil streak was instilled in him by his father, same goes for Harpo by Mister.
- Black Best Friend: Miss Millie is very attached to Sophia.
- Unusual of course, in that Sophia is much more of a prominent character than Miss Millie.
- Cool Big Sis: Shug Avery starts out as this.
- Dangerously Close Shave: Celie contemplates giving this to Mister before the razor's swiped from her hands.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Mister telling Harpo that "Wives is like children".
- Don't Split Us Up: Between Tear Jerker Celie and Nettie.
- Epistolary Novel
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Mister. In the novel, Celie just calls him "Mr. ___" and notes that others call him "Albert;" the film canonizes Albert Johnson as his name.
- Good Feels Good: Albert finally "doing right by" Celie, by paying for her family to come back from Africa.
- Karma Houdini: Pa is never ever forced to face the consequences of his cruelty.
- I Never Got Any Letters
- If It's You, It's Okay: Celie and Shug.
- The Lad-ette: Don't try to hit Sofia. You'll get the hardest beating.
- Living with the Villain: From an arranged marriage no less.
- Long Lost Relative: Celie and her children.
- Obliviously Evil: Miss Millie. She may not be as overtly nasty as the more present antagonists, but she's also too self-absorbed to notice her own abhorrent behavior.
- Rape as Drama: In the first few(as in 2nd) pages of the book... and Walker was just getting started.
- Heavily implied in the movie and did we mention that we were just talking about Celie.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: What Shug and Celie ultimately become... much to Celie's displeasure.
- Single Issue Psychology: Sofia is reduced to a broken shell after spending prison time for assaulting a racist mayor. An opportunity to crack a good joke later brings her back to her old self again. In the film version, this moment comes when Celie finally stands up to Mister.
- Social Services Does Not Exist
- To be fair, this book/film takes place in the 1910s/early 1920s in the middle of nowhere, so it wasn't like Social Services was just running to take care of them.
- As well as that, it was in the Southern States of America, Celie is black, poor and a woman - as Mister points out, who would care?
- A Storm Is Coming: The arrival of Shug Avery.
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: After Sofia returns from prison, it's been so long that she cries because she no longer knows any of her friends or family.
- Title Drop: Happens while Shug and Celie are passing a field of flowers.
- Traumatic Haircut: When Celie has a hard time combing the girls' hair, she suggest shaving the hair off and starting fresh, but Mister disagrees and says that it is "bad luck to cut a woman hair". The girls have to then endure hours of pain as Celie tries her best to detangle their hair.
- Villainous Incest: Pa, who's later revealed to be not her real father.