Walker labels religion and spirituality as the principle theme within the novel. The main religion we see is Christianity. Historically, we identify this as someone who believes in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, and lives in the teachings of that event. Howbeit, in the novel we see that Celie can’t find God in church that is based on a 20th century patriarchal religion, therefore she seeks him in something called pantheism. Walker views this type of spirituality, the idea that God is within her and she benefits far more from her own spirituality than from the rigid teachings she is taught.
At the beginning of the novel, Walker first announces Celie’s dependence upon God by recognising that she can “tell nobody but God” about the sexual abuse she is receiving from her stepfather. Walker makes it clear to us that God is used a threat mechanism towards Celie as he is this super-natural being in comparison to her, who is this weak girl whose self-esteem has been shattered throughout her life by men such as her stepfather and husband who used tyrannical power over her, denying her an education and parting her from the only happiness in her life, her sister Nettie. Celie is degraded by Albert when he says “you black, you pore, you ugly, you a woman” he aggressively attaches a stigma to her, using these powerful phrases insinuating Celie is almost this “thing” at the bottom of society because of the qualities she has labelled with. The clear repetition of the word “you” shows his complete disregard of her being a human as he strips her of any identity linking with tone used as its very declarative reminding us as the audience she is at fault and the significant dominance he has over her. Additionally the short, elliptical sentences add drama and convey the masculinity Mr is living up to you. Before Shug arrives we see how terrible Celie’s life is as she is heavily dependent on a God that she struggles to communicate with, a forcing a relationship. With her admitting at one stage her image of God is “big, old, grey bearded and white” showing her somewhat immaturity as these labels are foreseen with children wo have just come across biblical teachings. However, despite feeling isolated from the church Celie still goes and conforms to society’s idea of Christian worship and it supposedly being a place of sanctity but as Shug elucidates to her, the church is somewhere people go to “share the worship of God” not to find God.” Implying its not surprising Celie felt isolated as she had not yet found god within herself so made it in impossible for her to share with anyone else.
Walker makes Shug a dominant factor in the spiritual development of Celie. As the author she makes us the audience appreciate and become more aware of the relationship. We see how Celie, is given the courage to bring alive her dormant spirituality and abandon the prescribed form of church based Christianity. Shug builds Celie’s confidence and in turn helps break away from her oppressive lifestyle she was suppressed to with Mr, her household duties and the repressive church community. We see a discussion take place in letter seventy-three were we find out Shug also at one point believed in God but had developed a pantheist belief. This is reassurance to Celie and gives her focus to her journey. Both women felt like isolated outcasts, and Shug’s independent character and personal experiences with God enables her to offer this solution to Celie, allowing her to become Celie’s immediate source of strength and hope. The language she uses to describe her feelings towards God “he wears white robes and barefoot” is very informal and colloquial, showing her insecurity, contrasting greatly with the