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The Color Purple

Alice Walker

Letters 11–21

Letters 1–10

Letters 11–21, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary

Nettie runs away from Alphonso and finds refuge with Celie and Mr. ______. It quickly becomes clear that Mr. ______ still has an eye for Nettie. Whenever Mr. ______ pays Nettie a compliment, she passes it on to Celie. However, Nettie refuses Mr. ______’s advances, and she is soon forced to leave. Never hearing from Nettie again, Celie presumes her sister is dead.

Mr. ______’s two sisters, Kate and Carrie, visit and treat Celie with kindness, complimenting her on her housekeeping and her care of the children. Kate tells her brother that Celie needs new clothes, and though he seems surprised to learn that Celie would have needs, he allows the purchase. Celie is so grateful for her new dress, she does not know how to thank Kate. Kate also demands that Mr. ______’s eldest son, Harpo, help Celie with chores. Harpo has refused to help because he considers chores a woman’s job. Kate’s demand angers her brother, and the two get in a heated fight. When Kate leaves the house, she tells Celie to fight back against Mr. ______, but Celie does not see what good fighting will do.

Harpo confides in Celie that he has fallen in love with a spunky, robust young girl named Sofia. Celie’s thoughts linger on the sexy Shug Avery, who she learns is coming to town to sing at a local bar called the Lucky Star. Celie longs to go to the bar, merely to lay eyes on Shug. However, the only member of the household who sees Shug is Mr. ______, who spends the weekend with her. When he returns, Celie resists the temptation to ask Mr. ______ all the questions she has about Shug’s dresses, her body, and her voice. Instead, Celie and Harpo toil silently through the extra work they are given while Mr. ______ is lovesick and depressed after Shug’s departure. Harpo tries to complain to his father about the heavy workload, but Celie notes that Harpo is just as unskilled at arguing with Mr. ______ as she is.

Sofia’s parents will not let her marry Harpo because of the legacy of his murdered mother, and Mr. ______ is also opposed to the idea. However, after Sofia gets pregnant, marriage becomes inevitable. Celie is struck by the vivaciousness and unflinching strength Sofia displays as she talks back to Harpo and Mr. ______, as defiance is foreign to her own relationships with the two men.

When Sofia and Harpo marry, Celie helps them fix up an old shack on Mr. ______’s land, which they use as a home. Sofia and Harpo are happy newlyweds and doting parents, and Sofia keeps up her spunky spirit, demanding that Harpo help with the chores and refusing to acquiesce to her husband or father-in-law. Frustrated, Harpo asks both Celie and Mr. ______ how to get Sofia to behave, and both give him the only advice they know: to beat her. However, Sofia is physically very strong, and Harpo’s attempts to beat her typically result in more injury to himself than to his wife.

Celie worries that in advising Harpo to beat Sofia she has somehow committed a sin against Sofia’s spirit, and she has trouble sleeping for more than a month. Sofia learns that it was Celie who advised Harpo to beat her, so she angrily confronts Celie. Celie confesses that she is jealous that Sofia knows how to defend herself and fight back against her husband. Sofia feels sorry for Celie’s timidity and submissiveness, and the two make up and laugh about the incident. They talk about their families, and Sofia mentions she has six brothers. She also has five sisters, and all six girls are strong and “stick together.” Now friends, Sofia and Celie decide to make quilt pieces out of the curtains that were torn during Sofia and Harpo’s recent fights. Celie no longer has trouble sleeping.

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Celie's Abuse

by sprinze, April 16, 2014

I think it's important to specify that her abuse was psychological, emotional, physical, and sexual. Rape is one of the most traumatic crimes committed and I'm certain it contributed to her sense of powerlessness and low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness and her revulsion towards sex. Both her husband and her father raped her repeatedly. It's important.

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Shug and Celie

by sprinze, April 16, 2014

There's no note of sexuality here, which is also important. Celie was raped repeatedly by Mr., her husband, and her step-father. She grew numb to it, which can happen with repeated abuse especially when it happens so often. The only sex she ever enjoyed was the completely consensual and compassionate time she shared with Shug. That makes Celie possibly gay/lesbian/bisexual/queer, or even asexual because she wasn't actually concerned about the act but more the emotional attachment and connection with Shug. Without any other positive sexual ex... Read more

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61 out of 70 people found this helpful

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