Characterizations, plot and inner landscapes in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple revolve around – are affected and defined by – a central occurrence that happens long before the major events of the narrative itself. Celie, one of the novel’s major epistolary narrators, believes her father to be someone he is not. Her entire vision of self and being are formed and continually reinforced and shaped by the lie. Hers is a history, hidden from her – her father’s lynching: “too sad a story to tell pitiful little growing girls” (Walker, 181). The narrative’s framework of unmentionable history is framed by its italicized, opening passage: “You better not tell nobody but God” (1).
Satinsky, Howard, "Colonizers, Fathers and Daughters in The Color Purple" (2004). Faculty Publications. Paper 29.