Celie writes again to Nettie, saying that Shug has run off with someone else—a very young man named Germaine. Celie also reports that Grady and Mary Agnes (Squeak) have traveled the world, having run off together, and are now operating a marijuana plantation in Panama—or so Celie has heard.
Celie had lived in Memphis with Shug, Grady, and Squeak. Now all of them are gone—for different reasons—leaving her alone.
Celie tells Nettie how Shug described Germaine to her, and asked Celie to understand that her fling with Germaine is the last of her life. Celie curses herself for spending the summer back in Georgia, fixing up her new home, instead of spending it with Shug in Memphis. She feels that, had she stayed in Memphis, she might have prevented Shug's new relationship with Germaine.
Shug has a need to be free; a need for intense experience. That she tells Celie this fling will be her last suggests that she knows that soon she will no longer be able to have such things, or possibly even that she won't want them. Perhaps she is getting it out of her system in order to be with Celie. Of course, Celie is devastated by her abandonment. But there is something else going on here as well. By being abandoned, by being left alone, Celie must for the first time completely support and stand up for herself. She was dependent on Pa, then Mr. _____, and, though she had a loving relationship with Shug, she was dependent on her too. Now Celie will have the chance to depend on herself.