1. Celie says she doesn't know how to fight, she only knows how to stay alive. What does this line reveal about Celie?
2. Letters and a mailbox are important motifs in this story. They represent communication and contact with the outside world and suggest the necessity of expressing oneself in order to live fully. What example can you find that shows letters to be a source of strength to Celie?
3. The story shows the power of forgiveness. Which of the examples of forgiveness do you see as most instructive?
4. The story shows redemption in several characters. Which do you see as most instructive? For 10 additional discussion questions, click here.
5. There were at least two occasions when Celie was tempted to kill Albert. In one, Shug came running and restrained her. In another, Sofia warned her not to hurt Albert because the law would come down on Celie and she'd suffer a fate similar to that of Sofia. Would Celie have been justified in killing Albert after what he had done to her? Should she have killed him?
6. Shug represents pride and freedom to Celie who comments that "Folks don't like nobody being too proud or too free." Yet this pride and freedom is highly admired by many people in the town, including both Albert and Celie. How can you account for this seeming contradiction?
7. Sofia is an important character whose change from feisty and strong to submissive and weak sends an important message. What is that message?
8. What encourages Sofia to regain her spunk to the point that family members declare that she has finally returned?
9. The Olinka tribe in Africa, with whom Celie's children and her sister have been living, faces destruction with the coming of the road. Nettie writes that the white men in Africa are like whites at home who do not want black people to learn. What ideas can be found in this comment?
10. In the scenes of Africa and the Olinka culture, what attitude toward tribal culture and the African landscape is created in the viewer of the film?
11. The color purple becomes clear as a symbol when Shug tells Celie that God is displeased when you walk by a field and do not notice the purple flowers. What message is Shug trying to convey to Celie?
12. The major character in this story is Celie. When a character serves to highlight characteristics of the main character by being different, that character is called a foils for the main character. How did the other characters in the story highlight features of Celie's character by being different?.