The Color Purple

The Color Purple

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The Color Purple Letter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Celie has trouble sleeping and is not sure why, at first. Then she realizes she has wronged Sofia, by telling Harpo that he ought to beat her. One day Sofia comes to Celie and returns the curtains Celie made for Sofia and Harpo's house, saying that she (Sofia) looked to Celie for guidance and help, and that Celie has instead ordered her stepson to beat her, in order to make her "mind" him.
Although Celie is especially skilled at understanding the emotions of others, she occasionally has difficulty understanding her own thoughts and feelings. She feels she has betrayed Sofia, but it takes her several nights to figure out that this is the cause of her distress.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Celie admits that she was jealous of Sofia's ability to stand up to Harpo; Celie is unable to do this with Mr. ____. Sofia explains that her brothers and father were all abusive when she was younger. Now, as a married woman, Sofia wants her husband to treat her as a free and independent woman.
Celie nevertheless has the presence of mind—and the greatness of character—to acknowledge her mistake and to ask for Sofia's forgiveness. Celie's generosity of spirit, here, is sadly rare in the early part of the novel.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Sofia admits that she feels sorry for Celie, who has no power over Mr. ____, but instead must do exactly as Mr. ____ says. Sofia and Celie talk about and compare their families growing up, both of which were large, and Celie explains she has never intentionally hit or hurt anyone in her life. Celie does not go into detail regarding Pa's sexual abuse.
Ironically, Sofia only knows of Celie's mistreatment at the hands of Mr. ____. She does not know that Celie was also severely abused by her own father. This would only cause Sofia to pity Celie even more.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Sofia and Celie end up laughing about Mr. ____, whom Sofia says Celie should crack on the skull and kill. Although this does not seem like a joke, Sofia and Celie laugh at the utter improbability of Celie actually murdering her husband. Celie replies that she will be freed from her earthly torments, and from Mr. ____'s control, when she is in heaven. The two sit on the step outside Mr. ____'s house and enjoy their newfound friendship.
Another instance of dark humor in the novel. Of course it is not superficially funny to argue that Mr. ____ should die a painful death. But because Mr. ____'s presence looms so large on the farm, it would be akin to arguing that Celie should try to kill God himself. Mr. ____'s power over Celie is difficult to overestimate.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
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