Literature Study GuidesThe Color PurpleSection 14 Letter 87 Summary

The Color Purple | Study Guide

Alice Walker

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The Color Purple | Section 14, Letter 87 | Summary



Still missing Shug, Celie criticizes her physical appearance, wondering whether she will ever be happy again. The friendship Celie shares with Mr. ___ blossoms through their shared love of Shug and Mr. ___'s attempts to become a better person. Celie cannot accept Nettie's death. In another letter to her sister, Celie explains she still feels Nettie's presence, as if she has morphed into another form. Celie finally tells Mr. ___ about Alphonso and her children. Harpo and Sofia play matchmaker for Celie, but understanding Celie does not want a relationship, Mr. ___ chases the men away by saying, "This lady my wife."

Eleanor Jane visits Sofia with her husband, Earl Stanley, and their baby boy, Reynolds Stanley. Eleanor Jane loves Sofia and has trouble understanding Sofia's resentment toward white people.

Shug writes Celie describing her trips around the country and Shug's attempts to connect with her children. Only one son wants to see her. Mr. ___ and Celie enjoy afternoons talking with each other about Shug, Africa, the Olinka, and their children. Celie teaches Mr. ___ to sew. Celie still gets letters from Nettie.


Celie realizes happiness is a combination of what others think and feel about her, and, most importantly, how she values herself. She knows forgiveness is another crucial stepping-stone on her life path. She forgives Mr. ___ for his cruelty not just as a result of his apology, but also because his words prove he understands how wrong he was to abuse her in so many ways. Like Shug, Celie believes people deserve "love plus understanding." She sheds her anger at Shug and jealousy toward Germaine because she realizes love is never possessive: "Just cause I love her don't take away none of her rights," she says.

Celie and Mr. ___ explore their beliefs about gender roles and how they are formed in part by cultural expectations. He feels verbal honesty, forcefulness, and assertiveness are male qualities, where Celie believes they should be attributed to both sexes. Mr. ___ confesses he made choices to be obedient to his father's rules and expectations, but he wasn't happy. He mentions he used to love to sew when his mother did, but gave it up when he was mocked by his family because society said it wasn't a manly task. Celie explains African men "not so backward as men here." She hands him a needle and thread, and from then on, he sews pants for Celie and shirts for himself and to sell in Celie's store.

Eleanor Jane pesters Sofia to comment on all of her baby's delightful attributes. When Sofia refuses, Eleanor Jane asks her about her reticence. Sofia explains he will grow up to be a racist because of his environment. When the young mother vows not to raise her son to be a bigot, Sofia says, "The first word he likely speak won't be from you." On the same topic, Celie relates an Olinka myth Nettie shared in a letter. Averse to accepting any differences in people, from the beginning the tribe removed any albino babies born by their women. Nettie says the tribe "throwed out the white Olinka people for how they look. They throwed out the rest of us, all us who became slaves, for how us act." However, if the Olinka successfully rid themselves of difference, their fate is not survival.

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