After class, I was noodling around with the idea that the novel is monologic for the first half because God never wrote back to Celie. Then I thought, why did God not write back? This is almost a silly question—but The Color Purple is a work of fiction, why didn’t Celie get an answer or believe she had gotten an answer from God, or at the very least tell the reader about why she is not worried about getting answers?
The next thought that crossed my mind was that Celie did not choose to write these letters to God, she was forced to, or so we think, by her father. The beginning phrase (which so far is the only aspect of the novel that is outside of the frame of letters) is “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy” (Walker 1). In a way, this phrase is transcendent, because it is outside of the frame of letters—and transcendence is often an attribute of Gods. Did God say this?
Celie, in being forced to converse with God, exposes God as her last resort. And her last resort does not answer back, at least so we, as readers, think. In the first half of the novel, the narrative only gives us her letters, so because we are reading a narrative created by someone else we could obviously have missed something.
In one of the first of Nettie’s letters, Nettie says “I remember one time you said your life made you feel so ashamed you couldn’t even talk about it to God, you had to write it, bad as you thought your writing was” (Walker 130). It seems as though as a reader we have lost some of the narrative; Celie actually wrote the first letter of the novel and it is addressed to God; has she been writing all of the rest? Also has she been sending these letters to somewhere? She has never mentioned a place where she collects her letters. But these letters must have been collected, because in relying on the fictional world of The Color Purple to publish these letters there must have been a collection. This brought me to my final thought on the subject, is the God in the novel collecting the letters and did he eventually publish the novel? Of course, impossible questions, and possibly silly ones to ask of a work of fiction, but the ideas were fun nevertheless.