children. While Sofia says that being with Harpo is not always easy, the two are able to sustain their relationship without violence; Sofia works while Harpo tends to the house, and they learn to accept each other as equals. Albert apologizes for his treatment of Celie, and they spend time together while Shug is away with her new lover Germaine; their love for Shug brings them together. Walker uses blues womanism to foster forgiveness and communication between Celie and Albert, who chat like old friends and sew pants together. Mary Agnes retrieves her new child and leaves her new man to return to singing in Memphis full time, and Shug later leaves Germaine to return to Celie and singing at Harpo’s. Finally, the entire community is restored when Nettie and Celie’s children return from Africa. bell hooks has written about the novel’s conclusion, “The message conveyed in the novel that relationships no matter how seriously impaired can be restored is compelling. Distinct from the promise of a
Courtney George 142 happy ending, it allows for the recognition of conflict and pain, for the possibility of reconciliation” (227). hooks also criticizes the novel’s ending because Celie gains power through inheritance and not political struggle: To make Celie happy she creates a fiction where struggle—the arduous and painful process by which the oppressed work for liberation—has no place. This fantasy of change without effort is a dangerous one for both oppressed and oppressor. It is a brand of false consciousness that keeps everyone in place and oppressive structures intact. (227) While hooks makes a strong critique, Walker shows the propensity for struggle and change from “oppressive tactics” in the relationship between Sofia and Miss Eleanor, suggesting that, like the black community, the white community can learn to give, love, and cooperate despite the racist social structures present. While reconciliation between men and women is overtly womanist, the recognition of pain and conflict is inherently blues- oriented; Walker combines blues and womanist themes to revise the history of abuse in the black community. Walker uses Celie’s letters (like the blues) to publicly recognize private domestic abuse, while the female blues audience in the novel remakes blues violence into a womanist-inspired resolution. Notably, in the last scenes of the novel, Walker shifts the setting of a family celebration from Harpo’s jook to Celie’s home, signaling an ultimate break in the blues cycle of abuse; the Harpo’s blues community now unites in cooperative harmony as everyone takes on a duty in preparing the July 4 th feast. Harpo and Mary Agnes exchange a brief conversation over the meaning of the day, again signaling Walker’s revision of the black experience in southern history: ‘Why us always have family reunion in July 4 th , say Henrietta, mouth poke out, full of complaint. It so hot.