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Free Study Guide for The Color Purple by Alice Walker Free Book Summary

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Celie notices significant changes in Harpo after Sofia and the children have left. Within six months, he realizes that he is smart, good-looking, and capable of earning money. He and a friend, Swain, are turning the shed into a juke joint. Celie asks him where the children will sleep when Sofia returns. He tells her that Sofia is not going to return.


This brief letter describes an important change in Harpo that will affect many of the characters in the book. He is building a juke joint, which will open up a new social world for the black community, including Celie and Shug. Through his industry, Harpo has learned that he has value. As a result, he has accepted the fact that Sofia has left him. When Celie suggests that she might come back, Harpo, with detachment, says she will never return.



The juke joint is completed and named Harpo's. At first, there are almost no customers. Harpo and Swain are alone most of the time, except when Albert or Shug joins them. Harpo invites Celie to come, but she declines. Celie notices Harpo staring at Shug, amazed that the woman will say whatever enters her mind, even if it is mean. Later, he asks Celie if she thinks Shug would sing at his joint, which would help bring in customers. When he questions Shug about it, she says she will sing at Harpo's, although the place is not as classy as where she is used to singing.

The old pink announcements of Shug's last performance are located, and the old establishment's name is scratched out and changed to Harpo's. On opening night, more people arrive than can be seated inside the joint. They are excited to hear Shug again, for many thought she was dead. Celie also wants to watch Shug at work. Albert, however, says his wife cannot go to such an establishment. Shug tells him it is a good thing she is not his wife. She also insists that Celie attend her performance, saying she might need Celie's help.

Shug sings a song called "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and talks about her friend Bessie Smith. Celie admires her beautiful black skin against her tight fitting red dress. She also sees that Shug looks at Albert occasionally as she sings, and Celie notices that it makes him look "puffed up," even though he is a little man. She wishes Shug would look at her instead of Albert. Celie suddenly feels tears in her eyes, even though she understands this is the way it is supposed to be. Then, Shug announces Celie's name and says that the next song is called "Miss Celie's Song," because Celie "scratched it out of my head when I was sick." The song is about a man doing her wrong, but Celie just listens to the tune, proud to have a song named after her.


This letter reveals an awakening within Celie. For the first time since Nettie left, she actually feels loved and valued by someone. First, Shug stands up to Albert for her sake, insisting that Celie be allowed to come to the juke joint to hear her sing. Shug then dedicates a song to Celie, affirming her importance and raising her self-esteem. The chapter also sheds a new light on Shug. It becomes more apparent that she truly cares for Albert, as the watches him as she sings. She also shows her appreciation for the fact that Celie has nursed her back to health, allowing her to sing again.



Shug sings every weekend at the juke joint, always bringing in customers; but she is growing restless. Finally, she tells Celie she must leave at the beginning of the next month. Celie feels as pained as when Nettie left. She tells Shug that Albert beats her when Shug is not there. Shug hugs her and later kisses her. She says she will stay until she is confident that Albert will not abuse Celie anymore.


This chapter reveals a major breakthrough for Celie. She actually speaks up for herself and reveals that she will be beaten by Albert if Shug leaves. She has begun to value herself as a person and realizes that the patriarchal abuse she receives is wrong. She also displays, through her confession to Shug that she has established trust with someone for the first time since Nettie left. Shug again shows her positive side. Indebted to Celie for helping her in a time of need, she now promises to protect Celie from Albert's beatings. Even though she is ready to move on from the farm, Shug will stay until she is certain that Albert will not abuse her friend. The chapter clearly establishes a reciprocal love between Shug and Celie.

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