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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
Sofia's sisters, all big and strong, arrive in two wagons to pick up Sofia and her children. Harpo acts like he does not care, but Celie notices a dullness about him. She asks him if he is going to allow Sofia to leave. He does not understand how she can ask him this question when he cannot make his wife do anything. He knows he cannot stop her from going. As Sofia rummages through the house gathering things, one of the daughters asks if their father is coming. Sofia tells her children that he is staying to watch the house. Harpo, to keep busy, changes his baby's diaper even though it is not wet. He dries his wet eyes with the dry diaper. Before Sofia departs, Celie offers the quilt to her. They are then on their way, and Harpo is left standing in the yard.
Sofia's family of sisters seems to represent the strength that women gain when they act in solidarity with one another. None of them has money or room to spare, but they do not hesitate to help Sofia when she is in need. This sisterly unity makes Celie's loss of her only sister more touchingly poignant. Celie's gift of the quilt is significant, for it reveals the close bond she feels with Sofia. It is also significant that Celie acted on her own, making the decision to give the quilt to Sofia rather than Shug. Such independent thinking is new to her. Celie is discovering her own agency through other women.
Harpo is not prepared for this sad moment, for it goes against his patriarchal beliefs. Sofia's departure is the supreme display of the fact that he has no control over his wife, who is leaving him and taking his children. He cannot hold back the tears, for he feels ashamed and lost. He has truly loved Sofia.
Celie notices significant changes in Harpo after Sofia and the children have left. Within six months, he realizes that he is smart, good-looking, and capable of earning money. He and a friend, Swain, are turning the shed into a juke joint. Celie asks him where the children will sleep when Sofia returns. He tells her that Sofia is not going to return.
This brief letter describes an important change in Harpo that will affect many of the characters in the book. He is building a juke joint, which will open up a new social world for the Black community, including Celie and Shug. Through his industry, Harpo has learned that he has value. As a result, he has accepted the fact that Sofia has left him. When Celie suggests that she might come back, Harpo, with detachment, says she will never return.