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.