The Color Purple

The Color Purple

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The Color Purple Letter 69 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Celie decides that she wants to see Pa, to ask about the information she has just learned from Nettie. Celie has only seen Pa once since leaving home, and only briefly and from far away, in town.
Though Pa lives not far away, Celie has cut herself off from him—no surprise given all that he did to her. But Celie's new knowledge of her background gives her new strength, and an ability to escape her former passivity.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Shug and Celie drive to Pa's house, which is a now a large white structure, on beautiful land, that Shug believes must be owned by white people. Shug tells Pa, who is now married to a very young girl (Daisy), that Celie has come with her to visit Pa, and that Celie would like to ask Pa a few questions.
Pa has, by all accounts, done very well for himself. It was not totally apparent when Celie was young, but Pa was running the dry-goods business successfully, and pulling down a large income as a result. It is instructive that Shug assumes that any beautiful land must be owned by whites. Also note Pa's continuing predilection toward young girls.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie tells Pa, in front of Daisy and Shug, that she knows he is their stepfather. Pa pretends, for Daisy's benefit, that he took Celie and Nettie in because it was the nice thing to do, the Christian thing, and Daisy lauds him, now, for his generosity. Pa sees, from Shug's expression, that Shug knows Pa assaulted Celie. But Pa doesn't care, and knows that neither Shug nor Celie will mention Pa's abuse in front of Daisy.
Another instance of Pa's power over the women in his life. It's not clear whether Daisy would even believe Celie's story that Pa sexually abused her, but the very fact that Pa can anticipate, and silence, this story by simply looking at Celie and Shug, points to his continued influence over the family. At the same time, the fact that Daisy wouldn't believe the story also suggests that Pa doesn't abuse her, which is at least an improvement in his behavior.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie asks Pa where her biological father and mother are buried. Pa says he does not know, since a lynched man gets no head-stone in the South. Celie and Shug leave the house and look for the graves in the cemetery anyway. Not finding them, Shug announces to Celie that Shug and Celie are "family now."
The racism among Southern whites in the novel is so strong that it extends through life and beyond, into death. Not only do whites kills blacks who get too "high," they refuse even to acknowledge those blacks in death. Shug's comment that she and Celie are family now attests to their shared love and shared knowledge; they know each other and they know each other's stories and history. That is the foundation of a family.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
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