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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
After Grady and Albert take off in Shug's car, Shug asks Celie to sleep with her because she is cold and lonely without Grady at night. The two women talk. Shug asks Celie about the father of her children. Celie explains that it was her father, and she was only fourteen. He had asked her to cut his hair one day while her mother was out. Before the hair cut was complete, he raped her. He then made her finish cutting his hair while blood dripped down her stockings. Shug puts her arms around Celie, and Celie cries at the pain of remembering it all. Celie then tells Shug how her mother died, how Albert married her to care for his children, and how her sister left. She says no one has ever loved her. Shug tells Celie that she loves her and kisses her, surprising Celie. Celie kisses her back; then they kiss and fondle for a long time.
After Celie tells Shug of her sad past and grieves over the painful memories, Shug comforts her by putting her arms around her and then kissing her. Celie responds and they make love. Walker makes the lesbian sex seem comfortable and natural, especially in contrast to the brutal sex that Celie has endured. In fact, it is a healing process for Celie.
Celie does not like Grady and recoils when she hears him call Shug "Mama." She also resents that he stares at Mary Agnes a lot of the time. Shug helps Mary Agnes with her singing and encourages her to perform at Harpo's. When Harpo disapproves of the suggestion, Shug reminds him how much money he can make if he dresses Mary Agnes up right. Shug says the men will be attracted to Mary Agnes' long hair and "yellow skin."
In this chapter, the bonds between the women in the novel are strengthened, empowering them further. Shug helps Mary Agnes improve her singing of the blues and encourages her to perform at Harpo's. Harpo at first resists Shug's suggestions, but she reminds him how much money he can make from his wife performing at the juke point. In contrast to the women, the men in the chapter are shown as ineffectual and almost infantile. Grady calls Shug "Mamma," revealing his pathetic dependency on her. In addition, Harpo shows that he is not sharp enough or wise enough to recognize Mary Agnes' talent and ability to make money for the juke joint.