In our society, a nuclear family consists of a mother, a father, and the average amount of kids (2.5). It is the basis of what people consider a "normal" family to be. It is really sad that we, as Americans, need to have an idea of the "normal" family, in order to show our status. I think it's very trivial, but according to the text in "The Color Purple", it creates many issues that can be analyzed. The main issue Alice Walker is getting at is how different family structures can build equally strong bonds.
I, first, felt the strong bond when Celie said, "Us sleep like sisters, me and shug."(60th letter) I think that quote alone, shows the reader that there is more to a family then just the mom, dad, and kids. Shug provides Celie with something that no one else can; a loving, compassionate, and affectionate way of life.
Celie's first letters seemed to focus on her portrayal of her senses, then progressively turns towards intricate subject matter. The complex ideas create a sense of sympathy for the reader to relate to. Obviously we have all felt some kind of special bond with someone outside of the "nuclear" family. Alice Walker tries her best to connect with the reader by showing how love influences the creation of a family.
I believe the family is only held together by love. The relationship that we first read about with Celie and her step-father was no family to me. Its one thing to spank your kid to show discipline, but it's another thing to beat and rape them. Not only does he kill any emotions Celie might have, but he lies to her in saying that he was their real father. All of Alphonso's actions interrupt any significance...