The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, is a fictional story that took place in the South during the early to mid 1900's. The life of Celie is told through her own letters that are addressed to God. It is through the letters that the reader develops a sense of Celie's being, which at first is self-effacing, but eventually becomes strong and independent. In The Color Purple, Alice Walker leads protagonist Celie on a journey of self-discovery where she has to overcome different obstacles because of her gender, race, and class.
Celie comes from a poor family in Georgia and she was forced to leave school at a young age by her father who had gotten her pregnant. He abused her and she was expected to withstand it without any resistance. She was objectified and used for sex by her father until the day she was married off, where she was then treated the same by her husband, Albert. "[Pa] never had a kine word to say to me. Just say You gonna do what your mammy wouldn't You better shut up and git used to it" (Walker 1). The women in The Color Purple are all expected to abide by certain standards that differ from the men. Celie was expected to cook, clean, raise her husband's children and work in the fields. While women of higher class or dominant race were allowed more privileges, it was still evident they were not held to an equal status as men. The mayor's wife, Miss Millie, lived a different lifestyle than Celie which did not require her to work and allowed her to have maids and fancy cars, yet she was still controlled by her husband who refused to teach her how to drive. He wanted to give her materialistic things to keep a high status, but still had a sense of control by not allowing her to go wherever she pleased, whenever she pleased. "Mayor _______ bought Miz Millie a new car cause she said if colored [people] could have cars then one for her was passed due. So he bought her a car, only he refused to teach her how to drive it" (Walker 102).