Shug act more manly than most men. . . . Sofia and Shug not like men, he say, but they not like women either.

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Celie learns that Shug wants the freedom to have a fling with Germaine, a young man who is a third her age. Though Celie is less dependent than she used to be upon Shug, Shug’s revelation is painful for Celie nevertheless. Mr. ______ is the only person who understands Celie’s pain, as he has also felt the sting of Shug’s sometimes short-lived infidelity. Celie realizes that she no longer hates Mr. ______, even after all the wrongs he has committed. Mr. ______ loves Shug, and Shug loved him, so Celie cannot hate him. Celie and Mr. ______ begin to enjoy each other’s conversation, talking about old times, their friends and family, and their new discoveries about life.

Nettie writes that her and Samuel’s years in Africa have changed their idea of God. They no longer conceptualize God as looking like someone or something. Olivia and Adam have grown independent and outspoken like Africans, and Nettie worries they will get into trouble when they return to America.

The mayor’s daughter, Eleanor Jane, brings her baby son to Sofia’s house. Eleanor Jane fishes for compliments about her son, trying to get Sofia to say that she loves him. Finally, Sofia tells Eleanor Jane that she feels nothing for the boy, and Eleanor Jane begins to cry. Sofia says that she does feel some kindness for Eleanor Jane because Eleanor Jane had showed her kindness, but otherwise, the pain and racism that Sofia endured prevents Sofia from loving anyone else in the mayor’s family. Though Eleanor Jane vows to raise her son right, Sofia tells her that white society will probably make him into a racist nonetheless.

Celie overcomes her heartbreak over Shug, remembering the good times she and Shug had in the past. Celie hires Sofia to work in her clothing store. Eleanor Jane finally learns the full story of why Sofia had come to work for her parents and begins to appreciate Sofia’s distance from her. Trying to undo the wrongs of her family history, Eleanor Jane helps to look after Henrietta, Sofia’s daughter, and cooks for her. Shug’s love affair with Germaine fizzles, and she returns home to Georgia. Shug becomes jealous when she learns about Celie’s newly cordial relationship with Mr. ______, but Celie assures Shug that she and Mr. ______ just talk about how much they both love Shug.

Nettie finally returns to America, and she, Samuel, Olivia, Adam, and Tashi arrive unannounced at Celie’s house. The homecoming is incredibly emotional for both sisters, who are speechless and weak with amazement. The family gathers on the Fourth of July, and many people remark on Tashi’s beauty and how well matched she and Adam are. Though Celie feels old because her children are fully grown, at the same time she thinks, “[T]his the youngest us ever felt.”