Free Study Guide for The Color Purple by Alice Walker Free Book Summary|
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Significantly, when Celie hears Old Mr. ___ insulting Shug, she feels anger for the first time in her entire marriage and retaliates through subterfuge. Lacking the self-confidence to confront her father-in-law, Celie spits in his drink. When he continues to talk ugly about Shug, she imagines that next time she will put some of Shug's urine in his glass; for Celie it is truly an ironic and revolutionary thought. The man at the top of the patriarchal structure would be drinking from the bottom of the woman whom he scorns.
Unlike Old Mr. ___, Tobias is not threatened by Shug, but intent on seducing her because of her reputation as a "loose" woman. To win her favor, he brings her a box of chocolates. He is small-minded and, in patriarchal fashion, puts women into one of two categories; they are either useful for the work they do or for the sexual satisfaction they give. Tobias values Celie for her usefulness and wishes his wife, Margaret, were more like her.
The image of Shug as a child who needs to be nurtured is again presented in this chapter. When she comes into the room wearing a girlish outfit with her hair in cornrows, she looks very young, especially since she is so thin from her illness. Both Albert and Celie jump to be of service to her when she enters. It is significant that Shug, who at first resisted Celie's care and concern, now prefers her attentions to those of Albert. She sits beside her friend and asks Celie to show her how to sew. Celie feels valuable and a part of a family for the first time ever. Through healing Shug, Celie is really healing herself.
Sofia and Celie are working on their quilt on the porch. Shug has given them her yellow dress for scraps, and Celie is determined to use every piece of it. She thinks she may give the quilt to Shug if it turns out good. If it is not good, she will keep it for herself, so you can own Shug's yellow dress, now stitched into the quilt.
Sofia asks Celie why people eat too much, for Harpo seems to be gorging himself. Celie says maybe it is because he is tired of doing housework. Sofia claims that Harpo likes inside work, while she likes field work more. She says Harpo is a wonderful cook, even though he never cooked on the farm.
Sofia asks Celie to observe Harpo's eating habits next time she has a chance. When he comes for a visit soon afterwards, Celie notices he asks for something to eat first thing. She also sees that he is getting a potbelly. She teases him, saying perhaps he is pregnant. Harpo ignores her and gets something else to eat.
Quilting is a perfect symbol of the artistry that grows out of women's solidarity. While working on their stitches, women strengthen and comfort each other. Celie shares her innermost thoughts with Sofia as they quilt. She tells her that Albert is not all that bad; she then retracts her statement and says he is good in some things, bad in others. Quilting also becomes a metaphor for their existence. Just as a quilt is the piecing together of mismatched bits of cloth, the mismatched lives of the women are put together into a solid whole during the course of the novel.
Celie's love for Shug is expressed in the quilt making. She appreciates that Shug has donated her yellow dress to be cut up for patches in the quilt; Celie is determined to use every scrap. She also wants to express her love for Shug by giving her the completed quilt - but only if it turns out good. If it is not so good, Celie will keep it for herself, for the yellow patches will remind her of Shug.
The Sofia/Harpo subplot continues in a semi-comic vein. Harpo, still needing to express his dominance over his wife in some way, seems to be trying to outweigh her. Sofia tells Celie he eats all the time. It is like he wants to become bigger than Sofia so that eventually he can oppress her through his physical might. Harpo obviously continues to be influenced by patriarchal role models.
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on The Color Purple".
. 09 May 2017