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

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In this letter, Celie again writes to God. She thinks that God must be asleep now that she has finally found out the truth: "My daddy lynch. My mama crazy. All my little half-brothers and sisters no kin to me. My children not my sister and brother. Pa not pa."


At the revolutionary news that Fonso is not her father, the narrative returns to Celie. In this brief letter, she states that God must be asleep, changing her previously mild tone from confessional to accusatory. Celie is upset because all these years she has written to God, revealing that she suffers under the delusion of her own identity and her children's biological father. She cannot understand why God has waited so long to reveal the truth to her.

Although Celie is released from the guilt she has felt over her children being the product of an incestuous situation, she is shaken by the heinous news of her real father's lynching at the hands of the white townspeople, as well as her mother's mental illness. Celie wonders if God may be part of her problem, rather than the solution to her ills. Celie must now begin from the bottom up to reconstruct her concept of family and God.



Celie writes to Nettie and tells her that this is the first time she has wanted to see Fonso. She and Shug dress in their matching floral pants and drive to see her stepfather. They arrive at a fancy two-story house, and Celie thinks it is the wrong address until she sees a particular fig tree. Then, a motorcar pulls up behind them, and Fonso and Daisy, Fonso's fifteen-year-old girlfriend, get out of the car and invite them to the porch.

Daisy's parents work for Fonso, who is now running the store in town that Celie's real father used to own. He talks about how he must payoff the "white folks" to keep what he has. Celie tells him that Nettie is in Africa and has found out that Fonso is not their real Pa. A conversation ensues which reveals how differently Daisy sees the situation from Celie and Shug. Daisy thinks highly of Fonso for raising two girls that were not his own. He tries to be modest before Daisy and says that "any man would have done what I done." Shug says, "maybe not," indicating to him that she knows the whole story. Celie asks about May Ellen's children, and he says that she left and took the children with her.

Celie says that the only thing she wants from Fonso is to know where her real Pa is buried. He tells her that he is next to her mother, but neither have markers. Shug and Celie go to the cemetery and cannot find the graves. They pick up a horseshoe and both hold onto it as they spin in circles. Where they stop, they plant the horseshoe. Shug tells Celie, "Us each other's peoples now." Then she kisses her.


Celie now addresses her letter to Nettie instead of God, with whom she is disillusioned. She also shows a newfound strength when she confronts Fonso, her stepfather, about the truth; it is a positive sign that she is beyond her submissive, passive state. It is also significant that this new Celie comes to life in the spring; the flowers and trees are blossoming, just as Celie is. In keeping with the spring and Celie's new sense of self, Shug and Celie have dressed in flowery pants, similar in style but different colors. The similarity represents the bond between the two women, which they now feel comfortable displaying; the wearing of pants indicate that they are independent.

In most ways, Fonso has changed little. He is still interested in young women, using them and then abandoning them; it is obvious that he still operates under the patriarchal system. Additionally, he still has no sensitivity. He is not the least bit remorseful about Celie's parents, about what he has done to Celie, or that he is never told either of his daughters the truth about being their stepfather.

There are some new things revealed about Fonso. He has successfully run the store that belonged to Celie's father; he has literally seized the store, which rightfully belongs to Nettie and Celie. Because of the business, he now lives in a nice two-story house and drives a motorcar. He is, however, seen almost as an "Uncle Tom" figure, a black who panders to Whites. In order to have a profitable business, he will do anything for them. He even denounces Celie's father for not previously catering to white people in the store.

With Nettie in Africa and her parents buried in unmarked graves that she cannot find, Celie feels abandoned by her family. Shug, however, provides a new type of relationship for her, being a friend, confidante, teacher, encourager, and lover. They become symbolic family in a playful ceremony with the horseshoe, staking their claim in each other.



Nettie writes to Celie about Corrine's failing condition. She also reveals that she has finally told her and Samuel the truth about Olivia and Adam. Corrine does not believe the story. Nettie tries to get Corrine to remember the day she met Celie at the store when buying fabric for dresses, but Corrine cannot remember. Nettie closes the letter by asking Celie to pray for them.


When Nettie finally brings herself to tell the truth about Adam and Olivia, Corrine refuses to believe her. Instead, she still believes that Nettie is a cunning woman who is trying to hide her relationship with Samuel. Nettie pities the poor woman and attributes Corrine's failing health to her lack of trust in the ones who have loved her. It is obvious that Corinne is a weak, paraoid character.



Nettie writes to Celie that she has persisted in trying to get Corrine to remember the encounter at the store that day. Finally, she goes through Corrine's quilts, looking for old fabric that Corrine might have purchased in the store. Corrine sees the correct fabric, recalls Celie, and begins to cry. She remembers how much Olivia looked like the women in the store, which scared her; she was afraid Celie would want her daughter back.

Nettie assures Corrine that Celie was happy to see that Olivia was being well cared for; she had thought her children were dead. Nettie also tells Samuel that Fonso is the father of Olivia and Adam; he is shocked by the news.

In the middle of the night, Corinne wakes up and tells Samuel, "I believe." Then, she dies.


Nettie persists in trying to make Corrine see the truth about Olivia and Adam; with Christian concern, Nettie wants her to die in peace, knowing that Samuel has been faithful to her. Finally, it is a quilt that Nettie finds that makes Corrine remember her encounter with Celie. She admits that she had been afraid of the woman in the fabric store, for she knew Olivia looked just like her. She feared Celie would want her children back. Once again the quilt is used as a symbol for tying together disparate lives and uniting women.

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