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

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Without Shug around to encourage her, Celie begins to question herself. She stands naked in front of a mirror and wonders why Shug ever loved her. Even though Shug writes her letters, she does not mention joining Celie in Georgia. The last letter stated that she and Germaine were in Arizona visiting one of her sons and his wife and children.

Sofia and Harpo keep trying to set Celie up with men in town, but she has no interest. She even appreciates the fact that Albert tries to save her from suitors by announcing himself as Celie's husband. The two of them even spend time together. Celie feels close to Albert, because they both love Shug and share the heartbreak of losing her. Celie tells Albert what she has learned about Olivia and Adam. She also tells him stories about Africa that Nettie has shared with her. She explains how the Olinkas have their own version the Adam and Eve story and claim that Adam was the first "white" man, not the first man. They believe that the Africans predated Adam, whom they banished for his "whiteness," which they call nakedness. Feeling rejected, the "whites" think of blacks as snakes that they would like to crush to death.

Celie also spends time with Sofia. She is constantly intruded upon by Eleanor Jane, the mayor's daughter, especially now that she has a baby of her own. She wants Sofia to love and bless her little boy, but Sofia refuses. She explains that her little white boy will probably grow up and cause her problems, since Whites do not normally like blacks. Eleanor leaves feeling sad and tears are in Sofia's eyes.


This is a long, complex letter that reveals that Celie, now living alone and without Shug, is again struggling with her old demon of low self-esteem. She does admit, however, that she still feels "young and fresh," even though she is aging. She is glad that has been able to forgive Albert and enjoys his company from time to time. She shares many of Nettie's stories from Africa with him.

Celie never identifies herself as a lesbian. Even when Albert presses her why she does not like men, she simply discusses her aversion to them because of the past cruel and abusive treatment she has received. Albert will never understand the relationship between Shug and Celie. Sofia and Harpo want to actually change Celie, constantly trying to set her up in a heterosexual relationship.

Walker subtly addresses racism and the reaction to it in this chapter. Eleanor Jane, Miz Millie's grown-up daughter, still dotes upon Sofia, who had been her nanny and friend for years. Sofia, however, is too embittered by her past to make any room in her heart for this young woman. When Eleanor Jane brings her new baby boy for a visit, hoping that Sofia will love and bless it, she is crushed by the rejection they both receive. Sofia explains that she expects the boy will simply grow up to oppress blacks. The story of the relationship between Eleanor Jane and Sofia is typical of what often happened in the South between black nannies and the white charges they helped to raise.



Nettie's next letter to Celie tells about the news of Adam and Tashi. The young man caught up with Tashi and her mother, but they refused to return. As a result, Adam accompanied them to the Mbeles encampment, which he found to be an extraordinary place, set in a huge depression in the earth, where thousands of people lived. The Mbeles now include people from dozens of tribes, who have set up farms, a school, an infirmary, a temple, and a militia that sabotages white plantations.

Finally, Adam convinced Tashi to leave the Mbeles, but she still refuses to marry him and go to America. Tashi is convinced no one in the States will like her, especially because of the scarification on her face and the extremely dark color of her skin. She also fears that Adam will eventually abandon her, attracted by a light-skinned American black, and she will be alone in America with no country and no people. Adams tries to reassure her, and Olivia tells her that she will always be her "sister." The next day Adam has his own face scarified to make Tashi feel better. Understanding the depth of Adam's love, Tashi agrees to marry him. Samuel performs the wedding ceremony. Immediately after the wedding, they all head to the coast to catch the ship. Nettie tells Celie that she and her family will be home in a few weeks.


Walker shows the problems of internalized racism, which occurs when people begin to believe the lies and stereotypes told about them. Tashi recognizes that in America light-skinned African Americans are valued over those of darker skin. She has seen advertisements for a cream to allow blacks to bleach their skin to a lighter color. She worries that she will be rejected because her skin is so dark. Olivia is wise enough to know that the best way to combat internalized racism and feelings of inferiority is to assert solidarity, to love one another. Adam shows his love for Tashi by having his own face scarified, so she will not feel so different in America. His plan works, for Tashi agrees to marry him. The wedding takes place just before they all depart for America.

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