Free Study Guide for The Color Purple by Alice Walker Free Book Summary|
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After Celie tells Shug of her sad past and grieves over the painful memories, Shug comforts her by putting her arms around her and then kissing her. Celie responds and they make love. Walker makes the lesbian sex seem comfortable and natural, especially in contrast to the brutal sex that Celie has endured. In fact, it is a healing process for Celie.
Celie does not like Grady and recoils when she hears him call Shug "Mama." She also resents that he stares at Mary Agnes a lot of the time. Shug helps Mary Agnes with her singing and encourages her to perform at Harpo's. When Harpo disapproves of the suggestion, Shug reminds him how much money he can make if he dresses Mary Agnes up right. Shug says the men will be attracted to Mary Agnes' long hair and "yellow skin."
In this chapter, the bonds between the women in the novel are strengthened, empowering them further. Shug helps Mary Agnes improve her singing of the blues and encourages her to perform at Harpo's. Harpo at first resists Shug's suggestions, but she reminds him how much money he can make from his wife performing at the juke point. In contrast to the women, the men in the chapter are shown as ineffectual and almost infantile. Grady calls Shug "Mamma," revealing his pathetic dependency on her. In addition, Harpo shows that he is not sharp enough or wise enough to recognize Mary Agnes' talent and ability to make money for the juke joint.
Celie finally receives a letter from Nettie, given to her by Shug. The letter explains how Albert has not allowed her correspondence to go through, but she has continued to write, hoping someday that Celie will get a letter and learn that she is alive and well. Nettie also tells Celie that Olivia and Adam, her two children adopted by the minister, are both doing well. Shug tells Celie that she walked out to the mailbox with Albert and saw him stuff an envelope with funny stamps into his inside coat pocket. She later took the letter, the one written by Nettie, from his coat pocket.
Shug asks Celie all about Nettie. There are so many questions to answer that Celie's voice starts to hurt. Finally she asks Shug why she wants to know so much about her sister. Shug tells her it is because "she the only one you ever love . . . sides me."
For the first time in the novel, the speaker changes. The letter in this chapter is written by Nettie to Celie. Celie prefaces the letter with a one-line note to God, telling Him she has amazingly been holding a letter from Nettie in her hand. After the letter, Celie gives a brief narrative to relate her conversation about her sister with Shug.
It is very significant that Celie has finally received one of Nettie's letters. She has assumed that her sister had forgotten her or was dead. Now she learns that her cruel husband has been keeping the letters from her. It is Shug that makes the discovery and recovers the letter to give to Celie. It is also Shug who understands that Celie has only really loved two people in her life - Nettie and herself.
The shift in the storytelling is also quite significant. With the discovery of her sister's steadfast love for her, Celie begins to speak openly, not hiding her thoughts in letters to a distant God.
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on The Color Purple".
. 09 May 2017