Celie is fortunate, given the misery of her early life, that she has never had high expectations for her life to be happy. She is sustained by her faith in God. She develops a relationship with this patriarchal God and comforts herself by talking to him and writing him letters in which she can pour out her problems.
Celie is also sustained by her deep love for her younger sister, Nettie, and animated by the desire to protect her from the degradations she herself has undergone. This love gives her someone to care about and a strong reason to live.
Later, Celie grows and is sustained through her relationships with other women, chief among them Shug. She has an affair with Shug, and through her, she is able to see God and the world in a different way. From this point on, she is sustained by seeing God all around her in the beauty of the natural world. Celie writes:
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?). Not the little wildflowers. Nothing. Now that my eyes opening, I feels like a fool.
The assertive Sofia also sustains Celie, who is extremely fortunate in being able to find support from a community of strong women role models. Celie is also helped by both her resilience and her ability to change and grow as she experiences the world more fully.