The film “The Color Purple” is about Celie, a 14-year-old African girl living in the Georgia countryside who is poor and uneducated. In the film, Alphonso, the girl’s father, also forced her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a child, whom the father took and apparently slayed in the woods. In general, the film depicts a depressed black woman who tolerates, among other things, incest, bigotry, the loss of her child at birth, an abusive husband, domestic abuse, and dogmatism. Celie and other characters tell a tale of oppressive segregation and sexism in the South at the time, demonstrating a struggle for equality (Jones, 2010). Throughout the novel, Celie maintains her resolve. At the end of the movie, the actors have passed through great transformations and relations have started to reconcile. This paper intends to analyze the concepts of interpersonal communication in the movie. The discussion in the paper demonstrates how different concepts of the interpersonal communication are shown in the movie. Some interpersonal communication concepts that will be examined include writing, self-disclosure, stages, interpersonal conflicts model, as well as reverse pattern.

The first concept of interpersonal communication in this case is self-disclosure, which is noted to be a major concept. This is because if shared or changed, it can nurture hope and unite individuals back together. Revealing information concerning oneself to another individual assist in creating understanding, and it implies unveiling confidential, sensitive or personal information (Manning, 2014). In most cases, admission is reciprocal; with more closeness, individuals feel more relaxed revealing information that other people may view as negative. In the movie, this concept is demonstrated clearly when Celie revealed her story of sexual abuse from her father by sharing it with others. Accordingly, she also shares her life story concerning how her husband abuses her. Kate, her sister in law, advices her to fight back. Another incident that shows self-disclosure in the movie is the relationship between Shug and Celie, which grows intimately and Shug is seen asking Celie concerning sex. Thus, because of the disclosure, Shug reveals a secret to Celie regarding how she has seen Celie`s husband hid letters written by her sister Nettie to her. At the end of the movie, people are seen reconciling with their spouses and families as a result of self-disclosure.

Another concept includes the relationship stages, which shows how relationships develop. For instance, it is noted that relationships starts with an initial encounter, which leads to the experimental stage when individuals exchange information on different subjects in order to determine if there is adequate common room to seek a relationship. In case this stage is successfully negotiated, the relationship grows strong and the two people, despite the nature of their relationship, like friends or business acquaintances, establish a lasting union. In the movie, “The Color Purple” this concept is shown through Shug and Celie, who at first were never in good terms during their initial encounters, but with time, their relationship grew stronger and became friends with each other as Celie was nursing Shug. In the process, Celie was sexually attracted to Shug and they are seen even sharing a bed. Another relationship that grew from one stage to another is that of Nettie and Samuel, which led to marriage. Adam and Tashi also demonstrate this concept as they started as friends and got married later on.

The third concept is that of relational dialectics model. Tensions amid relationship and disconnectedness in interpersonal associations are explored through this concept. It is believed that the concept of self-disclosure can contest with the desire to have privacy and that the wish to reveal all fights with a longing for confidentiality in an unceasingly transforming sequence. In the movie, this concept is clear when Celie and Mr. Dash develops strains in their relationship and they end up separating for a while, but at the end of the movie, they reconcile and start to enjoy their marriage. Another scene is shown between Nettie and Celie, who separated for a while after Nettie ran away when Celie`s husband admired her. However, at the end of the movie, they reconciled and their union was strong again. Furthermore, Sofia and Harpo also remarried after tension in their relationship.

Interpersonal conflict model is the fourth concept of interpersonal communication. This concept demonstrates that relations that break up tend to pursue a reverse pattern that negatively reflects the manner in which relations are developed. According to this concept, individuals tend to concentrate on differences instead of similarities and start to limit their communication (Knapp, & Daly, 2002). As a result, relationship starts to stagnate and becomes ungratifying. The associates start to avoid each other at time showing mutual annoyance when they meet. Celie and her husband whose relationship is negatively reflected portray this concept. The husband has no love for Celie, thus abuses her every time. Celie and her father have shown a reverse pattern in their relationship, as there is no joy between daughter and father as it is supposed to be.

Writing is also another concept of interpersonal communication. In this concept, an individual may decide to employ the art of writing as a way of communicating his or her thoughts to the audience or the listeners. This concept motivates a person to express his or her feelings without any fear. In the movie, the idea of writing is clear and is demonstrated by Celie the main actor in the movie. Celie is seen writing many letters to God concerning her frustrations in her home and even in her marriage. Accordingly, Nettie wrote many letters to Celie but unfortunately Celie`s husband hid them from her.


In conclusion, the movie provided great life lessons as it demonstrated a number of interpersonal communication concepts that are very important in any relationship. Through these concepts, the characters in the movie were able to rectify their mistakes to ensure that their relationships worked for good. Accordingly, the concepts also help the readers to learn and improve their associations with others.


Jones, E. (2010). “The Color Purple is powerful”. Fredericksburg, VA : The Free Lance Star.

Manning, J. (2014). “A Constitutive Approach to Interpersonal Communication Studies”. Communication Studies. 65 (4): 432–440.

Knapp, M. L.Daly, J. (2002). Handbook of interpersonal communication (3. ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.

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