Shug and Mr. ____ become physically intimate again, and Grady and Celie are upset—since they both love Shug. Celie has trouble believing that Mr. ____ could be so cruel as to keep the letters from Nettie without sharing them with Celie, but Shug assures Celie that Mr. ____ can be "that mean." Celie vows to find the letters and read them.
Although Shug understands that Mr. ____ has severely wronged Celie, by keeping away Nettie's letters, Shug is not capable of holding herself back from making love to Mr. ____. She claims that her passion for him is purely physically, having nothing to do with his cruelty.
One day, Celie becomes so enraged with Mr. ____ that she picks up a razor and considers slitting Mr. ____'s throat with it, but Shug, seeing what Celie is considering doing, takes the dull razor out of Celie's hands, averting the crisis without Mr. ____'s noticing. Celie is still extremely upset with Mr. ____ for keeping Nettie's letters, though she has not had a chance to find them yet.
It is hard to imagine Celie actually going through with this plan, based on what we know of her up till now in the novel, but it seems that Mr. ____'s hiding of the letters has pushed her over the edge. Shug keeps Celie from doing something that very likely could put her in prison for the rest of her life—even though Celie's anger, at least, is justified.
Shug lies with Celie in Celie's room one night, and tries to talk with her, while Celie stews over Mr. ____. Shug tells how she and Mr. ____ fell in love, and how Mr. ____ was once a charming young man, attractive and a good dancer. Shug wonders what has happened to the man she "fell in love with," since Mr. ____, now, is ornery, lazy, and abusive.
Shug laments the man she used to know, but Celie does not have much patience for Shug's nostalgia. Celie's life is now dominated by the idea that Nettie is still alive. And because Mr. ____ has kept knowledge of Nettie from her, she sees him as evil beyond all bounds.
Shug continues telling of her romance with Mr. ____. Mr. ____ eventually married Annie Julia, his first wife, because Mr. ____'s parents would not permit him to marry a dissolute woman like Shug, even though Mr. ____ already had several children with Shug. Out of revenge, Shug swore that she would continue seeing Mr. ____ despite his being married; sometimes she would keep Mr. ____ away from Annie Julia for weeks at a time.
Annie Julia's life, sketched here, is one of tragedy comparable to Celie's. Just when Annie Julia felt she was getting away from a terrible marital situation, she was murdered by the very lover in whom she sought refuge. If Celie were not so angry at Mr. ____, she might even feel sorry for Annie Julia here.
Shug says that, first, when she came to Celie's house, she wanted only to come between her and Mr. ____ But Shug quickly realized how much she cared for Celie, and how much Mr. ____ had changed—into a humorless, lazy man. Shug then wanted only to satisfy her physical desires with Mr. ____, and she found that she cared a great deal for Celie—both as a friend and as a romantic partner.
Shug has the candor to admit that, as with Annie Julia, Shug originally only wanted to interrupt Celie's relationship with Mr. ____. Little did Shug know how little there was to interrupt, since Celie did not care that Shug was sleeping with her husband.