Well, us talk and talk about God, but I’m still adrift. Trying to chase that old white man out of my head. I been so busy thinking bout him I never truly notice nothing God make. Not a blade of corn (how it do that?) not the color purple (where it come from?). . . .
In the seventy-third letter of the novel, Celie recalls for Nettie this conversation with Shug. Celie has told Shug that she has stopped writing to God altogether. In response, Shug tries to help Celie develop a new understanding of God, which involves sidelining Celie’s notion of a God who is white and male and with whom she feels she has nothing in common. Shug gently suggests that instead of being mad at God for his injustice, Celie should reimagine God as a figure or entity with which she can more closely connect. Just because Celie’s image of an archetypal old, bearded white man will no longer do, Shug argues, Celie does not need to reject God altogether. Shug urges Celie to be creative and to see the presence of God in everything and everyone, as a sort of disembodied “it” with no race or gender. Shug’s lesson is part of a greater lesson that argues for reimagining one’s oppressors rather than rejecting them. Shug shows Celie that she does not need to reject men altogether. She explains that Celie can have men as friends and that her life does not need to revolve around men exclusively. Instead of dismissing men and God, Shug changes the power dynamic by reimagining them.