What facts about American history are captured in The Color Purple, such as those represented by the lyching and burning of Celie and Nettie`s father?     

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The facts represented in the case of Celie's father relate to violence, power, and unfair treatment under the law in America in the early part of the 20th century. 

Celie's father was a businessman working hard and successfully to build a business in his town. When his business began to offer real competition to his lighter skinned counterparts, they took matters into their own hands and killed the man who was competing with them. 

They did not face prosecution. They were not arrested and no restitution was offered to his widow. This scenario refers to facts of life for those in power wielding privilege criminally and for those without power, who had no recourse to gain protection or equal rights. 

Institutional racial prejudice, unfair and unequal treatment under the law, and disenfranchisement are all well documented facts of life for African Americans at this period of time, especially in the South. 

In addition to the story of Celie's father, Sofia's experiences exemplify the unfair treatment of African Americans during this period, as she is insulted then jailed (sentenced to years in prison) for responding to that insult. 

Dear God,

   They put Sofia to work in the prison laundry. All day long from five to eight she washing clothes. Dirty convict uniforms ....

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial