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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Celie tells Nettie that Shug has fallen in love with Germaine, a young fellow of nineteen that is in her band. Celie's heart is broken. Shug claims that she only wants one last fling and then intends to spend the rest of her life with Celie. She asks Celie for six months. Celie is hurting worse than she thinks she can endure, but tells Shug that she will love her no matter what; however, she is leaving for Georgia.
Before the novel reaches its final conclusion, Celie endures one more unhappiness. Shug falls in love with a nineteen-year-old man in her band. It breaks Celie's heart, but it motivates her to make the final move to Fonso's house. She plans to leave Shug, demonstrating her newfound self-respect and strength.
Albert's daughter, Henrietta, has a disease that keeps her blood from clotting. Celie remembers that Nettie has said that they eat yams in Africa to help that condition. Unfortunately, Henrietta hates yams. Everyone tries to make recipes to hide the yam taste. Even Albert is concerned about Henrietta and hides some yams in the peanut butter he gives her.
One evening Celie stops by Albert's house, where he lives alone, to see his shell collection. He talks about the past, saying that Celie reminded him of a little bird when she first came to live with him. He then reminds her that they are still husband and wife, but she tells him they were never husband and wife. It is obvious that Celie has no interest in Albert or any other man.
Part of the reconciliation in the novel involves Celie making her peace with Albert. As she helps to care for the sick Henrietta, she gets to know the changed Albert, who has even taken up the collecting of shells, symbols of femininity. In many ways, he is a much softer person. He now works and keeps house; he also is helping to care for Henrietta. When Celie stops by to see his shell collection, Albert talks about the past, saying he could not appreciate her when they first married. Then he reminds her that they are still husband and wife; he seems to hope that they might get back together. Celie, however, has no interest in men.
Celie receives a telegram from the State Department informing her that the ship that Nettie and her family were on has sunk. Celie is devastated. She is also saddened by the fact that most of the letters that she has sent to Nettie are returned to her, undelivered.
The devastating news of the shipwreck serves to test Celie's newfound stability and sense of self. Although it seems she will now be physically separated from her sister throughout her life, she knows that Nettie will always live in her mind. She is at least thankful that they were re-united through the mail. When Celie finds out that Nettie has not received her letters, she is crushed, for she wanted her sister to know her. Celie's undelivered letters to Nettie have become similar to the many letters she wrote to God, which could not be delivered either.