Harpo asks his father why he beats Celie; Mr. ____ answers that he beats her because she's his wife. When Celie is beaten by Mr. ____, she pretends she's unfeeling wood, "like a tree."
Celie wishes to be as unfeeling as a tree, but, in reality, it is Celie's empathy and powers of sensitivity that enable her to be a loving mother and a friend to people like Shug and Sofia.
Harpo, who is seventeen, tells Celie he is in love with a girl who is fifteen. Celie says they are too young to be in love, but Harpo disagrees. Harpo is afraid to talk to the girl or to the girl's father, since he is worried the girl does not like him as much as he likes her, and he is even more worried that her father will disapprove of their relationship.
Again, Harpo appears to be repeating his father's behavior. He wants to get Sofia pregnant and marry her so that he can have a family of his own—and so that he can rule in that family the way Mr. ____ rules in his.