Alice Walker wrote this novel from her own personal experience, growing up in the rural South as an uneducated and abused child. The goal of this book is to inspire and motivate black women to stand up for their rights. Celie, the main character, goes through an inner transformation, from being an abused wife to a confident and independent black woman and businesswoman. Another major theme in Walker's novel is the power of strong female relationships.
The main thesis of the novel is black women's rights. Her novel is based on how the black women are discriminated against by racism, which makes them second-class citizens in the larger society, and they are oppressed by their fathers and husbands, which makes them second-class citizens in the home. In the novel Celie, the main character has to fight for her rights. Her sister Nettie also passes trough the same thing while living with the Olinkas in Africa, since the Olinkas also treat women as second-class citizens. In neither place can the Black woman enjoy the basic human rights of self- determination, freedom from violence, or ownership of their own bodies. Celie says "he just do his business, get off, go to sleep," shows that she doesn't have ownership of her body. Nettie also shows how men don't believe that women should be educated in this quote, "The world is changing. It is no longer a world just for boys and men," trying to tell an Olinka man that a women needs to be educated. .
The tones is very confessional and open because her letters are addressed to God and are private, they are much like journal entries. In the novel she also uses color. The color purple is the color of royalty, which exemplifies the endless possibilities available to Celie and other black women if they stand up for their own rights. The Color Purple is a historical novel; it never refers to any factual events. There are no dates, little sense of the passage of time, and very few mentions of characters' ages.