Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
The culmination of the novel is directly linked to this place. At the end of the novel, Celie takes possession of the home. The significance of this act is threefold. First, it serves as a validation of her hard-won independence. The house becomes a place in which she makes the important decisions concerning upkeep. After this change occurs, the home becomes prosperous and its inhabitants are at peace, in contrast to Celie’s early years in the home under male leadership. The house also serves as a reward for the faithful endurance of the sisters. Their long suffering results in a happy reunion in the place of their childhood trauma. Finally, the place is a symbol of transformation. Its inhabitants are emotionally transformed into vibrant characters, symbolized by the house’s physical and structural reconstruction.
Mr. _____’s house. Celie’s home after she marries the unnamed Mr. _____. Representing the nadir of her existence, this house becomes her descent into hell, though the hellishness of the place is masked by its outward appearance within a social context that prohibits a woman from rising to the level of her abusive husband. What goes on behind closed doors in this home is protected by the sham of traditionally accepted behavioral norms and social custom. Within this house, Celie is continuously mistreated by Mr. _____, the ultimate insult coming when he brings his ailing mistress, Shug Avery, into the home and Celie is expected to care for her. In her marriage home, as in her childhood home, Celie has no control over her destiny and receives no more affirmation as a person than a slave might have.
*Memphis. Tennessee city famous for its night life, where Shug Avery, a singer and performer, makes her home. In Memphis, Celie lives with Shug in relative luxury, enjoying the amenities of Shug’s healthy income. Celie learns a trade, and with Shug’s support and economic sense, eventually makes great strides toward becoming financially successful as the owner and manager of her fashion business. Celie’s tenure in Memphis is important because it is the first time in her life that she is free from the bondage of abusive men. For the first time, Celie becomes aware of her options and begins to see herself as a valuable human being.
Olinka village. West African village where Celie’s two children are raised by Nettie and the place where Nettie spends most of her life separated from her beloved sister. The primitivism of this jungle place contrasts with the modernization of America, but more important, despite the obvious contrast, this place is used to parallel the journeys of Celie and Nettie. In both places, the ramifications of female subjection to men are indicated. This village also serves to presuppose the limitations of paganism, apparently contrasting with the Christian background and home of Nettie. However, the reality suggested by the author is that American Christianity, when reinforcing traditional relationships that obscure abuse and prevent female ascension and equality, is suspect.
Harpo’s home. Another ordinary home in the impoverished rural southern setting of this novel, and a place in which female retaliation to physical abuse occurs. Like his father, Harpo abuses his wife; however, Sophia fights back before eventually leaving him. Her action contrasts with Celie’s endurance of mistreatment. Left alone, Harpo transforms his home into a juke joint. Shug later sings there, and Squeak also begins her singing career at this place, so this is one place where a woman can be celebrated, provided she is talented and attractive. In contrast to the abusive family relations, the juke joint becomes a place where men in the community gather to celebrate their existence; however, their celebrations are little more than masks to cover the serious mistreatment of women.
Miss Millie’s home. Home of the white mayor and wife, where Sophia finds herself unjustly sentenced to twelve years of maid service for refusing to cower to Miss Millie. This home serves to remind readers of another layer, beyond the home, in a social nexus that encumbers a black woman seeking validation and independence. Readers see the awful price of racism that Sophia endures because she has sufficient dignity to stand her ground, but her stance contrasts with Celie’s tranquil endurance.
Samuel’s home. Home of a local minister, who will become a missionary to Africa, which becomes Nettie’s home when the girls are separated. It is the closest thing to a positive traditional view of domesticity in the novel. However, even this home, despite its overt piety and compassionate motives, reinforces female subjection.