The Color Purple (2023) Ending Explained – What happens to Celie’s kids?

The Color Purple (2023) Plot Summary

Alice Walker’s iconic novel, The Color Purple has once again been remade into a film and we are not complaining. This time, The Color Purple (2023) has been directed by Blitz Bazawule and is based on the Broadway version of this classic story. 

Set throughout the first half of the 20th Century in Georgia, it follows the meek Celie who goes from living with her abusive father to her abusive husband, Mister Johnson. The only silver lining is the knowledge that her children are alive somewhere and the hope of getting a sign that her sister, Nettie is alive after they are brutally separated from one another.

But things start looking up when she befriends her daughter-in-law, the loud and fierce Sofia and Mister’s mistress, the confident and brazen singer, Shug Avery. It turns into an ensemble story as The Color Purple also starts focusing on the hardships, racial tension and misogyny that these women face and how they prevail with support from each other.

What happens to Celie’s kids?

Celie is raped by her step-father, Alfonso and bears him two children, Olivia and Adam. They are immediately taken from her and “given to God.” Celie and Nettie wonder if he kills them but that is not the case. Celie first sees Olivia when she and her adoptive mother come to their store. After Nettie runs away from home and is then kicked out by Mister, she finds work with the town’s pastor.

And it turns out that Alfonso has given away both kids to the pastor and his wife. Nettie takes care of the kids and becomes a nanny of sorts, moving with the family to Africa when the pastor decides to become a missionary. Through Nettie’s letters to Celie, it is revealed that the unrest in the colonies has her wanting to return to USA. At the end of The Color Purple, Mister surreptitiously helps them and unites Celie with Nettie, her kids and their children.

Why does Shug Avery get involved with the girls? 

Shug Avery is a free-spirited singer who doesn’t let any man tie her down and sometimes hooks up with Mister. When she next comes to Georgia, Celie suggests inviting her to perform at the new juke joint by Harpo, Mister’s son. Shug not only complies but crashes with the Johnsons and befriends Celie. She teaches her how to stand up for herself, find some happiness in her life, and fight back in the little ways that she can.

When Nettie’s next letter arrives, Shug intercepts it before Mister can hide it and uncovers the rest of the letters for Celie. The next time she visits Georgia, she interrupts a fight and decides to take Celie with her to Memphis. Even Harpo’s girlfriend, Mary Agnes is done with him and decides to join the girls. Once Celie finds her footing, Shug Avery sticks around, patching up with her father, a pastor and helping Celie with her clothing store.

Who is Alfonso?

At the beginning of The Color Purple, it seems that Alfonso is Nettie and Celie’s father. He rapes Celie and also tries to assault Nettie before she runs away. When Mister asks for Nettie’s hand in marriage, Alfonso refuses as she is more worthwhile and instead marries Celie to him for some poultry. At his funeral, a few decades later, his latest wife reveals to Celie that he was not her father.

After Celie’s real father died, her mother married Alfonso. The wife brings more happy news – the grocery store was never Alfonso’s, it was her real parents’ and before they died, they put Celie and Nettie’s names on the deed. Celie is delighted that she had parents who loved her and looked after her and that she now has financial freedom as she opens a clothing store that sells pants with the help of Shug, Sofia and Mary Agnes.

Why does Sofia stay with Harpo?

After Sofia leaves her husband, Harpo for trying to beat her, she moves on and gets together with a prizefighter, Buster. He seems sweet and loyal but after she is arrested, he disappears. Celie puts it as Buster being affected by the incident but we are never told why he leaves. In the meantime, Harpo and Mary Agnes have been looking after Sofia’s kids. After she is freed, they take her in and support her when she is forced to work as a maid for a White woman.

It doesn’t seem that Harpo and Sofia have a romantic relationship anymore as he has something going on with Mary Agnes in that disastrous Easter lunch. She chooses not to go to Memphis with Shug, Celie and Mary Agnes but stays back in Georgia. However, she is back to her old fiery self, keeping Mister in check, taking care of the juke joint with Harpo and helping Celie with her shop.

What makes Mister change his mind?

Throughout the movie, Mister is selfish and short-tempered, refusing to understand or sympathise with Celie. He doesn’t take her seriously when she finally leaves him with her parting words – that until he does right by her, nothing right will happen to him. 

Soon, his crops are infested and are destroyed. He realises that Harpo is doing well on his own and doesn’t need him. He has become a drunk and no one wants him. He recalls Celie’s last words to him and vows to fix things with her. 

Near the end of the movie, he gets Nettie’s latest letter which reveals that she is in trouble and needs Celie’s help getting home. Someone in USA needs to go to the immigration office and vouch for her, that she is an American citizen as she has lost all of her documents. Seeing this as his chance, Mister decides to help.

He even sells a bit of his land for the money required to bring Nettie and the kids home. On top of that, he doesn’t boast or even tell Celie about how he is helping Nettie. When she rejects him and tells him to stay friends, he quietly accepts it. He is happy when she invites him to Easter in 1947 and he uses the chance to unite Nettie and the kids with Celie.

Read More: The Color Purple Movie Review

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