The Color Purple

by: Alice Walker

Mr. _____

Why don't you work no more? He ast his daddy. No reason for me to. His daddy say. You here, ain’t you? He say this nasty. Harpos feeling be hurt.

In Letter 16, Celie records an interaction between Harpo and his father, Mr. _____. She observes the relationship between the two men as one of competition and contention, the result of years of physical abuse and disrespect. Harpo wants to leave home and get married but, for now, he must keep working in the field with Celie, while Mr. _____ just sits on the porch. Resentment builds between father and son.

Mr. _____ marry me to take care of his children. I marry him cause my daddy made me. I don't love Mr. _____ and he don’t love me.

Celie and Sofia discuss love and marriage. Sofia considers leaving Harpo despite the fact that they actually love each other. Celie points out the differences between her marriage and Sofia’s: She and Mr. _____ both entered the marriage for convenience. Mr. _____ loves Shug Avery and Celie does not yet know who she loves. At this point in the novel, Celie wonders if she loves Shug too.

But what was good tween us must have been nothing but bodies, she say. Cause I don’t know the Albert that don’t dance, can’t hardly laugh, never talk bout nothing, beat you and hid your sister Nettie’s letters. Who he?

Shug and Celie talk about Mr. _____ and compare his personality when Shug first knew him to his behavior now. He has changed—and not for the better. Shug admits that she and Mr._____ shared an intense sexual attraction when they first met, but that she never wanted him for a husband. Now, she can barely tolerate him and what he has done, especially to Celie.

You ugly. You skinny. You shape funny. You too scared to open your mouth to people. All you fit to do in Memphis is be Shug’s maid. Take out her slop-jar and maybe cook her food.

After Celie stood up to Mr. _____, he tries to shame her into staying with him with insults about her weaknesses. He claims that no one will ever want to marry her and that his house has not been clean since his first wife died. He even insults her cooking. Mr. _____ feels bitterness from having lost control in his own home and having lost face in front of his entire family.

Then the old devil put his arms around me and just stood there on the porch with me real quiet. Way after while I bent my stiff neck onto his shoulder. Here us is, I thought, two old fools left over from love, keeping each other company under the stars.

By the novel’s end, Celie and Mr. _____ make their peace with each other. He helps her sew. They talk about everything that has happened. He seems to be a somewhat changed man. They share their love for Shug, and by the time Nettie returns, they have become friends. This occurrence represents one of the biggest transformations in the novel, as Celie felt nothing but hatred for Mr. _____ for so many years, and Mr. _____ appeared to embody nothing but hate and violence.