Alice Walker believes that people can be redeemed- even out-and-out bastards. This is heartwarming, but is it likely? One woman in the group said she found Mr- so hateful that she wasn't interested in him becoming a pipe-smoking, trouser-sewing old sweetheart. It offended her.
It strikes me, having just read Bleak House, that Celie is a Dickens heroine. She's brutalised and downtrodden but remains unscarred. She's Esther Summerson, she's Little Dorrit. Like them she works out her salvation with needlework.
I was re-reading the Preface. Walker says the book is theology. Pagan theology.
Oddly enough, I'd entirely forgotten that aspect- which suggests to me that it's less essential than Walker thinks and more grafted on. For me The Color Purple is a humanist text. It's about people saving one another and themselves. For it to be truly theological God would have to be an actor in it- and She's not.