What are Celie's relationships with her mother, sister, and Mr. ___ like?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first letters of The Color Purple, Walker parodies Celie's predicament as a revisionist Cinderella myth with a slave narrative voice, such is the cruelty inflicted upon her.  The men in Celie's life either kill or drive off the mother figures in her life, leaving Celie in survival mode.

Celie does not have much of a relationship with her mother, but she knows her mother is unhappy.  Alphonso demands sex from her mother, who refuses because she is sick.  When her mother goes to visit her sister (who is a doctor), Alphoso seeks out Celie for sex.  In this way, Alphonso plays both the roles of the abusive slave master and stepfather.  Celie's mother is an absentee parent, much like Cinderella's father, who died, leaving the daughter at the hands of the other, cruel illegitimate parent.

Celie's sister Nettie plays the role of the fairy godmother. She transforms Celie from an illiterate domestic into an educated woman who has some self-worth.  Like her mother, Celie becomes an absentee sister after 'Phonso arranges the marriage of Celie to Mr.____.

'Phonso and Mr.______ both play the roles of pimps, who use young women for sex only.  Mr. likewise plays the roles of the new slave master and cruel parent figure, disciplining Celie and forcing her to have sex with him (even though they are married.)  Many critics have cited Walker as having the courage to call out this misogynistic culture of men.  Gerald Early, for example, says Walker "utterly condemns the black male's glorification of his pimp mentality."