Celie Johnson

Celie Johnson

    The Color Purple
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew Up… in rural Tennessee. Celie loves her younger sister, Nettie, but hates her father, Alphonso, because he beats and rapes her. She’s already had two children by him, both of whom he took away.

Living… in the squalid, noisy house of Mister, her new husband. He already has children, and Celie is expected to take care of them and the house, even though she never wanted to. For her own sanity, though, she’ll have to get the house into some sort of shape. Mister beats her more when she doesn’t.

Profession… homemaker. Celie used to work on her family’s farm before she got married. Now she’s focused on taking care of Mister’s house, because that’s essentially what she’s been ordered to do.

Interests… quilting and writing letters. Celie enjoys anything that allows her to express herself. She even writes letters to God, because He seems to be the only one who will listen to her feelings about her difficult life.

Relationship Status… married, but not happily. Mister actually wanted to marry her younger sister Nettie, but Alphonso refused, and offered Celie up instead. There’s no loving relationship between Mister and Celie. Mostly he just wanted someone to help mind the children, and Celie didn’t have any choice in the manner.

Challenge… freeing herself from the trap of her abusive relationship. Mister beats her, just like her father, and Celie doesn’t know how to fight back. But she does know she wants a better life. With the help of some other women, she might be able to make a change, but all of society is working to keep her in her place.

Personality… quiet and oppressed. At least initially, Celie just wants to be invisible. She writes letters to God, but she doubts that He really cares about her. However, with the help of new friends, Celie grows into a capable, independent woman, and finally is able to experience happiness.


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