Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
Sofia and Celie are working on their quilt on the porch. Shug has given them her yellow dress for scraps, and Celie is determined to use every piece of it. She thinks she may give the quilt to Shug if it turns out good. If it is not good, she will keep it for herself, so you can own Shug's yellow dress, now stitched into the quilt.
Sofia asks Celie why people eat too much, for Harpo seems to be gorging himself. Celie says maybe it is because he is tired of doing housework. Sofia claims that Harpo likes inside work, while she likes field work more. She says Harpo is a wonderful cook, even though he never cooked on the farm.
Sofia asks Celie to observe Harpo's eating habits next time she has a chance. When he comes for a visit soon afterwards, Celie notices he asks for something to eat first thing. She also sees that he is getting a potbelly. She teases him, saying perhaps he is pregnant. Harpo ignores her and gets something else to eat.
Quilting is a perfect symbol of the artistry that grows out of women's solidarity. While working on their stitches, women strengthen and comfort each other. Celie shares her innermost thoughts with Sofia as they quilt. She tells her that Albert is not all that bad; she then retracts her statement and says he is good in some things, bad in others. Quilting also becomes a metaphor for their existence. Just as a quilt is the piecing together of mismatched bits of cloth, the mismatched lives of the women are put together into a solid whole during the course of the novel.
Celie's love for Shug is expressed in the quilt making. She appreciates that Shug has donated her yellow dress to be cut up for patches in the quilt; Celie is determined to use every scrap. She also wants to express her love for Shug by giving her the completed quilt - but only if it turns out good. If it is not so good, Celie will keep it for herself, for the yellow patches will remind her of Shug.
The Sofia/Harpo subplot continues in a semi-comic vein. Harpo, still needing to express his dominance over his wife in some way, seems to be trying to outweigh her. Sofia tells Celie he eats all the time. It is like he wants to become bigger than Sofia so that eventually he can oppress her through his physical might. Harpo obviously continues to be influenced by patriarchal role models.