For a novel with a very grim beginning, The Color Purple has a redemptive message, leaving readers with the hope that it is possible to transcend a traumatic start in life and find fulfillment. This message is especially aimed at women, showing Celie able to throw off patriarchy and thrive with the support of other women.
It is difficult to imagine a rougher start than Celie's as a young, Black, poor adolescent in a racist and sexist society. She is routinely raped by her stepfather and twice impregnated by him, loses track of her two children by him, is married off to a man who wants a wife, and is treated abusively by both him and his children. A reader might expect such a person to be utterly broken. Yet while scarred and traumatized, Celie has the resilience and courage to bounce back from a terrible early life to find joy and fulfillment.
Celie has the capacity to hear the wisdom of role models such as Sofia and Shug, who encourage her to value herself and leave her abusive past behind. She has the courage to get involved in a love relationship with Shug and the strength and grace to let her go. Celie, in fact, experiences a remarkable degree of healing and transformative growth by the novel's end, leaving readers with the message that one's past does not have to determine the trajectory of one's future.