Celie is an African American teenager living in rural Georgia in the early 1900s. She has two children with her step father. Her little sister, Nettie, lives with them as well.
Celie lives with Mr._ and raises his children. Mr. _ has feelings for Shug, a singer. Celie becomes infactuated with Shug and they begin a relationship after Shug moves in due to an illness. Harpo, Mr._'s son marries Sofia who is punished into being a maid for sassing the Mayor's wife. Later, Shug comes back married to a man named Grady. Despite both of their marriages, Shug and Celie begin a romatic relationship with eachother.
Shug and Celie find notes from Nelie which Mr._ had been hiding. Nelie is a missionary in Africa who befriended Samuel and Corrine, the couple raising Celie's birth children. Corrine dies and Samuel and Nettie marry. Celie feels like killing Mr._ for taking her letters. She is at her lowest.
Celie leaves Mr._ and moves to Memphis with Shug and Grady. Her step father dies, and she inherits the family's land, store, and house. When Celie moves back into her old house, Shug runs off to be with a young flute player. Mr._ (now known as Albert) and Celie begin a healthy relationship since he has now "changed." The two still ponder about their love for Shrug.
Celie is told that while Nellie and her family were on a ship which was sunken by Germans. Shug also returns, and the three live well. The book concludes with a family reunion. Celie ends her letters to God stating she feels "younger than she has ever felt before."
This story presents man vs. self. Celie is constantly trying to find herself through the story. She struggles with low self-esteem and feels she is not of worth because of the abuse, verbal and physical, and rape she has experienced.