Celie is a young poor, uneducated 14-year-old African-American teenager girl living in the Southern United States in the early 1900s. She writes letters to God because her father, Alphonso, beats and rapes her. Alphonso has already impregnated Celie once, which resulted in the birth of a boy, Adam, whom Alphonso abducted. Celie believes that Alphonso killed Adam. Celie then has a second child, and Celie's ailing mother dies after cursing Celie on her deathbed. The second child is a girl named Olivia, whom Alphonso takes from Celie shortly after her birth.