The Color Purple

The Color Purple

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The Color Purple Letter 89 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Celie has hired Sofia to work in her shop, as a clerk, and Sofia has made amends with Eleanor. Sofia tells Eleanor how she, Sofia, was initially made the family's servant. Eleanor is horrified by her parents' actions long ago, and begins helping Henrietta even more, whipping up various yam dishes in order to alleviate the symptoms of Henrietta's illness.
Eleanor, by way of apologizing to Sofia, does what she can for Henrietta. This inverts the typical black-white service relationship: Eleanor is now, to a certain extent, "working" for Sofia. It also indicates that Eleanor felt true bonds of love with Sofia, whom she, as a child, felt was a true mother figure to her—not a servant. Eleanor seems to be confronting the forces of racism that had before seemed invisible to her.
Themes
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Celie has another conversation with Mr. ____, whose transition into a good man appears to be complete. He wonders about all he has gone through, all the suffering he has caused Celie and others, yet he also sees how much love surrounds him—Shug's, Celie's now, and Sofia's, and the children's. Albert believes it is his religious duty, while on earth, to wonder at the marvels of God's creation, to appreciate the beauty that surrounds him.
Mr. ____, too, mirrors the language of spirituality used, independently, by Celie and by Nettie. He believes that God is all around him, and that, to live a better life, he must refuse to believe in the God of white Christianity. Rather, he must construct his own deity out of love for the people and the natural world around him.
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
Shug returns, saying that Germaine has left her to go to college. Celie shows Shug her room in the new house, Celie's house, now painted purple and red, and displays a purple frog that Albert has carved for her. This frog is an acknowledgment of what Celie once said to Albert—that, to her, all men look like frogs. Celie tells Shug that both she and Albert love her and will take care of her. They consider her part of their large family.
The purple frog is of great symbolic importance. The frog, a joke from Mr. ____, embodies his new friendship with Celie. And the color purple, as before, represents Celie's desires for independence and for freedom—for a splash of "color" and excitement in a life that, for many years, was only difficulty and drudgery. Meanwhile, now Shug returns, having experienced being abandoned, and it is she who is welcomed into Celie's family rather than the other way around. And it truly is a family built around love, and without jealousy.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon