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Free Study Guide-The Color Purple by Alice Walker-Free Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

CHAPTER 5

Summary

Celie explains to God that Fonso has beaten her for winking at a boy, even though she did not wink at anyone. Because of her past, she has no interest in looking at men. She enjoys the company of women because she is not scared of them. She explains that even though her mother cursed her, she cared for her and felt sorry for her situation. She believes that Fonso is responsible for her death.

Celie continues to worry about her younger sister. She says that Fonso seems to be looking at Nettie more often; but she says that she stands in his way so he will not be able to see too well. To protect Nettie from her father, Celie now urges the girl to marry Albert, her suitor. (Celie refers to him only as Mr.___.) She encourages Nettie to enjoy her first year of married life, because after that she is sure to have children. Celie thinks that she herself does not have to worry about becoming pregnant again, for she no longer bleeds during the month.


Notes

In this letter, Walker introduces the first hint of Celie's sexual attraction to women. Afraid of men because of the cruel treatment of her father, Celie turns more and more towards the company of women, who represent love, warmth, and feelings of solidarity to her. Later, the reader will see Celie affirming her sexual identity in her relationship with Shug. For now, it is manifested merely as what men cannot offer.

Celie continues to act as her sister's adviser; unfortunately her advice is limited by the world she inhabits. Unable to imagine a different option for a woman than marriage or incest, Celie now advises Nettie to marry Albert in order to protect herself from Fonso's advances. Far from the romanticized notions of the joys of being a wife and a mother that most women have been brought up on, Celie knows that in the Black patriarchal system, being married and raising lots of children is a killing chore. She tells Nettie to have "one good year" before the babies come. It is not surprising that Celie equates children with misery, for her own infants have been stolen from her immediately after a nightmarish childbirth and she has been forced to raise the children of other women.

Celie's disturbing news that she no longer has a menstrual cycle makes the reader recognize the trauma she has been though. Her body has responded to the repeated rapes and the theft of her children by shutting down its reproductive cycle.

CHAPTER 6

Summary

Celie writes to God that Albert asked Fonso if he could marry Nettie. Fonso told him that he cannot marry Nettie because of the scandal surrounding his wife's murder, the number of children he has, and his connection to Shug Avery. Celie asks Fonso's new wife, whom she refers to as their new mammy, if she knows who Shug Avery is. The woman says she is a blues singer; she finds a picture of Shug and shows it to Celie. Both young women think Shug is beautiful. Celie asks if she can keep the picture. When she is told can, she stares at it all night until she falls asleep and dreams about Shug.

Notes

Shug Avery is introduced as "the other woman," for she is unlike any other female in Celie's experience. Not only is she beautiful, but she represents the larger world outside of Macon County. Shug is free from the tyrannical patriarchy that infests Celie's small world. By looking at the photograph and seeing the way Shug dresses and laughs, Celie decides she is a woman who has a mind of her own.

When Fonso sees Shug's picture, he has a strong reaction to it; Celie decides this "other woman" must pose some kind of threat. This picture begins Celie's lifelong attraction and adoration of Shug Avery. Later in the novel, Shug will become a role model for Celie, providing her with an image of a woman who has a strong sense of her self-worth and who can function independently outside the Black patriarchal lifestyle.

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