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The Color Purple | Section Summaries

See Section Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Early teenage years

    Celie is abused and raped by Alphonso, whom she thinks is her father. She gives birth to two children.

    Section 1, Letter 1
  • Late teenage years

    Celie marries Mr. ___ and her abuse continues. Nettie moves in, but is evicted and disappears.

    Section 1, Letter 9
  • Late 20s

    Celie nurses an ill Shug when the singer moves in. Shug supports Celie. They become friends.

    Section 3, Letter 23
  • Early 30s

    Shug teaches Celie about true beauty and the different types of love. They become lovers.

    Section 4, Letter 35
  • Mid 30s

    Celie finds out Nettie is alive. Mr. ___ has been hiding her letters since she left decades earlier.

    Section 6, Letter 49
  • Mid 30s

    Nettie explains that Corrine and Samuel adopted Olivia and Adam, Celie's lost children.

    Section 10, Letter 70
  • Late 30s

    Celie regains her relationship with God. Shug explains who God is and what He wants from people.

    Section 10, Letter 73
  • Late 30s

    Celie moves to Memphis with Shug. She begins her business designing and sewing women's pants.

    Section 11, Letter 76
  • Early 40s

    Celie moves into Alphonso's former house and shares civilities with Mr. ___, who has transformed.

    Section 13, Letter 84
  • Mid 40s

    Celie declines Albert's request to remarry, but they remain friends. Nettie and her family return.

    Section 15, Letter 89

Section Summaries Chart

Section Summary
Section 1, Letters 1–13 The Color Purple's opening line, "You better not never tell nobody but God. It'd kill your mammy," creates an immediate ... Read More
Section 2, Letters 14–22 In Letter 15, Shug Avery returns to town for a singing engagement, and Mr. ___ spends the weekend with her. Celie doesn'... Read More
Section 3, Letters 23–31 Shug Avery is very ill, and Celie cooks for Shug, bathes her, and styles her hair. In return, Shug showers Celie with co... Read More
Section 4, Letters 32–38 After Sofia moves out, Harpo converts their home into a juke joint he calls Harpo's. Along with his guitarist friend, Sw... Read More
Section 5, Letters 39–44 Sofia's family and friends discuss how they can help Sofia endure her jail sentence. Discounting violent means such as b... Read More
Section 6, Letters 45–51 Shug returns for Christmas along with her new husband, Grady. Heartbroken with the news of Shug's marriage, Celie says, ... Read More
Section 7, Letters 52–58 In this section of text, Celie and Shug settle into the room Shug shares with Grady, and Celie reads Letters 52–58 from ... Read More
Section 8, Letters 59–63 In Letter 59, Celie writes to God about her anger with Mr. ___, saying that she still wants to kill him, but Shug help... Read More
Section 9, Letters 64–69 In Africa, Nettie and Corrine's bonds unravel. Because Olivia and Adam resemble Nettie so much, Corrine thinks she is ... Read More
Section 10, Letters 70–75 Corrine refuses to believe Nettie and Samuel's facts about Olivia and Adam: they are Celie and Alphonso's children and... Read More
Section 11, Letters 76–79 Shug lives in a mansion on an estate. Celie notes her friend loves to talk about her dream home, cook huge meals, and cl... Read More
Section 12, Letters 80–81 Nettie, Samuel, Olivia, and Adam go back to England. The rubber plantation workers plowed down all of the roofleaf after... Read More
Section 13, Letters 82–86 Alphonso, the man Celie and Nettie called Pa, dies. Although he leaves all of his money to his wife Daisy, he bequeath... Read More
Section 14, Letter 87 Still missing Shug, Celie criticizes her physical appearance, wondering whether she will ever be happy again. The friend... Read More
Section 15, Letters 88–90 Adam finds Tashi and her mother and brings them back to the village. He proposes to Tashi, but she refuses. Tashi worr... Read More
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