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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 9

Summary

On her wedding day, Celie learns how hard her life on the farm with Albert is going to be, for she is expected to take care of his four children. On her first day, she is attacked by her oldest stepson, who is twelve. His mother died in his arms, and he is upset about being told he has a new mother. He hits her in the head with a rock, and she bleeds profusely. Albert tells the boy not to do it again and does nothing else.

The two little girls, who are six and eight, have not had their hair brushed since their mother died. They scream and cry as Celie works until bedtime to comb out the tangles. Exhausted from the events of the day, Celie falls into bed. Albert immediately gets on top of her. Having no interest in sex with Albert, Celie pays him no attention and thinks about Nettie's safety. Then she thinks about Shug Avery and how Albert has gotten on top of Shug and done the same thing. Thinking Shug must like it, Celie tries to respond and puts her arms around her husband.

Notes

Celie's marriage is clearly a sham. Albert simply wants a wife so he can have a sex slave and a caretaker for his four wild children, who have been abused and neglected. The little girls have not had their hair combed for ages, and the oldest son, not knowing how to properly show his emotions, reverts to violence when he finds out he has a new stepmother. The cruelty and frustration of Celie's wedding day clearly foreshadow the continued brutality that she will endure at the farm. There is also a clear indication that the cycle of abuse in Black families is not easily broken, for it is passed on from one generation to the next.


Although Celie has changed residences, it is obvious that she has not escaped from the cycle of abuse. Although she is now married, her body is still violated, for she has no interest in sex with Albert. He, however, assumes Celie can be used as he chooses and wastes no time climbing on top of her in bed. In spite of the misery of her first day at the farm, Celie is grateful that she has kept Nettie from marrying Albert. She also feels a new closeness to Shug Avery, since she knows that Albert has slept with the blues singer, just as she is doing now.

CHAPTER 10

Summary

In town one day, Celie, sitting in the wagon, spies a child that she is certain is her daughter. The little girl looks just like Celie and Celie's father (who is the child's father and grandfather). She decides that if the girl's name is Olivia, then she is her daughter, for Celie had embroidered that name on infant clothes, which were taken with the baby when she was abducted. Celie decides to follow the child. She gets down from the wagon and goes into the store behind the little girl. As Celie watches her, Olivia behaves disinterestedly while her new mother tells her not to touch anything. Celie notices that Olivia and her new mother are dressed alike.

Celie compliments the woman's choice of fabric and helps her hold it up to her face for a better look. The woman smiles, saying she is going to make her and the little girl some new dresses; she knows that will please the child's father. Celie immediately asks who the father is, believing that she will hear her father named; instead the woman says that a reverend is the little girl's father, a fact that confuses Celie.

Before the women leave the store, the white clerk treats them disrespectfully, for he is impatient with their chatter. When the woman finally purchases the fabric and goes outside, Celie follows. The woman is upset that the reverend is not waiting for her and the child. Celie tells them that they can sit in her husband's wagon and wait for the reverend. As they sit together watching all the people in town passing by, the woman asks who Celie's husband is. When she points to Albert, the woman tells Celie that he is a good-looking man. Celie agrees for conversation's sake even though she really thinks that most men just look alike.

Celie asks the woman how long she has had the little girl. The woman answers by saying the little girl is almost seven years old. When Celie asks the child's name, the woman says it is Pauline. Celie feels sad that it is probably not her little girl after all. Then, the woman explains that she personally calls her daughter Olivia. Celie asks her why, and the woman says that the little girl just looks like an Olivia. The reverend then arrives and takes the woman and Olivia.

Notes

This chapter reveals that Celie does possess a small measure of courage. When she spies a child she thinks may be her daughter, she follows her into a store and makes a connection with the girl's mother. She even invites them to sit in her wagon while they wait for their ride. Celie's intuitiveness is also depicted. She notices how much the child looks like her and her father and decides to find out if the girl's name is Olivia. When she learns the child is called Olivia by her mother, Celie's intuition is satisfied.

The poignancy of the scene is heart-rending. Although Celie definitely thinks it is her child, she is powerless to speak the truth to the wife of the reverend. She does not have enough self- confidence to reveal that she is probably the child's mother, for her baby was stolen from her. Powerlessness is also revealed in the scene in the store where the white clerk treats the women with open hostility, probably because of their race and their gender. The chapter, however, ends on a lighter note. The two mothers, one biological and the other adoptive, seem to bond, enjoying each other's company; they laugh together over a silly joke.

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