This is one of my favorite movies and a scene that has stayed with me years after seeing it. I have read the Color Purple several times over the years and always find something new to love about it. I was introduced to the movie before I knew there was a book… I was a kid when the movie came out and forbidden to watch it. I spent years trying to see it. Then when I found out it was a book, I didn’t know what to do with myself.
I feel this scene is symbolic on so many levels. One, the worse sinner based on the time period brings the entire juke joint, a din of sinners to church.
Shug Avery was a nonconforming woman. Shug was bisexual, promiscuous, a singer of the devil’s music, took lovers, took risks, spoke her mind, traveled with a band and did not apologize for her freedom. All this during a time, when it was customary for men to beat their wives. When to be a good woman meant to be long suffering and self sacrificing. She said to hell with all that and lived.
In reading the novel you see how even though she chose freedom she mourned all those who abandoned her because she was free. Which I think makes her story so relative. We all have to make the best choices for ourselves and sometimes that means the people we are attached to will remove themselves from our lives. Which is something we all fear, not being loved or accepted… While needing to love and accept ourselves. So many powerful messages and lessons in “The Color Purple.”
In the end, she is the person who shows that we are all spiritual beings, we are all connected and she bridges the gap man dug with his religion of exclusion.