The Color Purple Part 3: pg. 100-151
When Millie comments that colored people can drive and she doesn't even own a car, the mayor buys her a new car. Sofia's children come to visit and reprimand her for calling herself a slave. She doesn't see how anything has changed, for she still just irons and cleans all day long - only she still does not get to see her children. Miss Millie feels badly for Sofia, since it has been five years since she has been home to see her family. So, she offers to take her there for a full day. However, after a day of racist problems and engine breakdowns, Sofia only results in fifteen minutes alone with her children. Afterwards Sofia claims that Miss Millie cannot stop complaining about how ungrateful Sofia is. "White folks is a miracle of affliction, say Sofia" Part 3, pg. 103.
Shug writes to the family saying she has a big surprise for them. Mr._____ thinks it's probably a new car, since she is making so much money now. However, when Shug arrives, she brings with her Grady, her new husband - not the surprise everyone expected. Both Mr.____ and Celie are shocked and unsettled. She proceeds to give them her old car, as a gift. Mr. _____ and Grady spend time together, while Shug and Celie act like sisters together. Shug calls them family and talks about her enormous singing career, which has spread all over the country. She buys anything she wants and has sung with numerous musicians, including Duke Ellington. She has no more feelings of lust for Mr._____ after learning that he beats Celie. Meanwhile, she tells Celie that she would cover her with licks and kisses if she were her wife. Celie explains that they have tried to make love more, but have not found much success. Therefore, she thinks she's probably still a virgin.
Shug and Celie cut hair and talk about their past lovers. Shug wonders what it was like for Celie with her own father. She has trouble recalling, but knows that she does not know how it feels to be loved. Shug tells her she loves her and then kisses her hard on the mouth. They kiss for a long time, touch themselves, and feel wonderful and complete, like lost babies.
Shug and Celie sleep in the same bed, holding one another peacefully until Grady and Mr.____ return drunk. Celie tries to find good qualities about Grady, despite his spendthrift nature and red suspenders and bow ties. She does not like how he calls Shug "mama," and she hates how he's always looking at Squeak. Shug likes Squeak and wants to help her with her singing.
Celie tells God that she has a letter in her hand that she has kept secret. It is from Nettie. In Nettie's letter, she tells Celie that she is not dead. That she writes to her at Christmas and Easter, but knows that Albert will not allow her to read the letters. Shug asks Celie about Nettie, wanting to know every detail about her life. Celie realizes that Mr.______ desired Nettie in the past, but when Nettie wouldn't give in, he made her leave and never return in any form: body or letter. Shug wants to know so much about Nettie because she is the only other person Celie ever loved.
Shug becomes close with Mr._____ again, hurting and frustrating both Celie and Grady, who pass the time together. Shug informs Celie that Albert has been hiding Nettie's letters all these years. She can hardly believe that Albert is such a horrible man to Celie and his children. Celie becomes so angry with Mr._____ that she wishes him ill will. After Celie finds her husband's razors, Shug takes care of Celie, puts her to bed, and tells everyone she has a fever. Then, she talks and talks about her past and her family and her relationship with Albert. Her real name is Lillie and she recalls her courtship and beginnings with Albert. Even though she gave birth to three children with him, his father would never approve of a marriage between them. He believed she was trash, just as her mother. Shug knew Mr._____'s first wife, Annie Julia and feels terrible for the evil way she treated her. She feels even worse for the way she treated Celie - as a servant - when she first moved in. However, she thinks about the glorious sexual relations she had with Albert now differently:
"And when I come here, say Shug, I treated you so mean. Like you was a servant. And all because Albert married you. And I didn't even want him for a husband, she say. I never really wanted Albert for a husband. But just to choose me, you know, cause nature had already done it. Nature said, You two folks, hook up, cause you a good example of how it sposed to go. I didn't' want nothing to be able to go against that. But what was good tween us must have been nothing but bodies, she say. Cause I don't know the Albert that don't dance, can't hardly laugh, never talk bout nothing, beat you and hid your sister Nettie's letters. Who he? I don't know nothing, I think. And glad of it." Part 3, pg. 117
Now that Celie knows that Albert has all her letters, she wants to see them all. Shug knows how to get the key to Albert's trunk, the place in which he keeps everything important to him. They find the letters, remove them from the envelopes, and steam them flat. Shug plans to place them in chronological order for Celie, organized by postmark date.
The first letter is about Nettie's escape from Mr._____'s house. She ran away fast with all her bundles, from their father and Mr.____, but could not escape the latter. Nettie warns Celie in her letter to leave if she can. Albert drags Nettie into the woods and rapes her. Then, Nettie pulls herself together and goes to the Reverend Mr.____'s house, and finds none other than a white woman and a little girl with the same eyes and face as Celie. The next letter talks about Nettie's new home with the religious family. The woman's name is Corrine, her reverend husband is Samuel, and the little children are Olivia and Adam. However, despite their kindness and hospitality, Nettie misses Celie so much every moment, thinks about her, and feels her heart tug every time she realizes that Celie laid her own life down for Nettie's. In the following letter, Nettie realizes that Albert is not giving Celie her letters. She asked Samuel to visit Mr.____ to see if Celie was okay, but he did not want to get in the middle of man and wife, which Nettie understood completely. Nettie realizes that she will have to leave town because there is no work for her, and is sad to leave Corrine and Samuel, because they have been like family to her. They are missionaries and have worked out west, teaching Indians and poor people, and desperately want to go to Africa for missionary work.
Nettie's next letter is dated two months later and is much thicker than the rest. She stopped writing for a while, because of Mr._____, but realizes that it is terrible to heed his command. She tells Nettie that she miraculously got to travel with Corrine and Samuel to Africa because of a last minute drop-out. While in Africa, Nettie reads about history and the bible and cannot believe how ignorant she used to be. She realizes that Egypt is in Africa and that the Egyptians were colored people who enslaved the Israelites. She learns how the land is beautiful and grand and that the natives are not savages, as everyone used to think. Before this experience, she didn't even know where Africa was. Now, she wants to learn and teach and defeat her ignorance.
"Oh, Celie, there are colored people in the world who want us to know! Want us to grow and see the light! They are not all mean like Pa and Albert, or beaten down like ma was. Corrine and Samuel have a wonderful marriage. Their only sorrow in the beginning was that they could not have children. And then, they say, 'God' sent them Olivia and Adam." Part 3, pg. 124
Nettie tells Celie that she can believe in anything, especially if Nettie is in Africa. In her series of letters, Nettie tells of her tales in Africa and New York, working as a missionary. She doesn't feel as if she is Corrine and Samuel's maidservant, for they teach her and she teaches the children. They travel to New York, the most beautiful city in Nettie's opinion, with an entire wealthy section owned exclusively, it seems, by colored people. It is called Harlem, and in it there are hundreds of churches, all visited by the missionaries. Everyone gives them money for the children of Africa. They plan to work for the uplift of black people everywhere. They travel first to England, where Nettie learns about the history of slavery. She meets other missionary and anti-slavery groups, and has difficulty understanding why these people would sell people like her as slaves. She tells Celie about the different cultures of Africa and Europe, and how the African countries were bigger and stronger centuries ago, and now are poor and ill. They travel from England, to Portugal, Senegal, Liberia, and Monrovia. Nettie wishes Celie could be with her and misses her terribly. Her first glimpse of Africa is Senegal. She visits a plantation and eats cacao. She, Corrine, and Samuel see the coast of Africa and bend down to thank God for such beauty. With burgeoning excitement, Nettie wonders if she will ever be able to tell Celie everything she is learning and experiencing.
After crying and reading so many of Nettie's letters, Celie doesn't know what to do or how to respond. She wants to kill Albert for keeping such information from her. Shug stops her by saying that it is un-Christ-like to want to do such things. Thou shalt not kill, she reminds her. And she doesn't want Celie changing her aura while Nettie is on her way home to see her. Shug teases Celie by saying that she cannot kill Albert, because then all Shug will have left is Grady and his big teeth. They laugh and Shug makes plans to have the two of them sleep together from then on, instead of with their respective husbands.
They sleep together like sisters, without any sexual relations. Celie thinks she is dead because her button is no longer rising from sleeping next to Shug. Shug calms her by saying it is just immobile because she is angry. Shug excites Celie and states that they will make her pants; she believes it is silly to be in the fields all day working in a dress. Celie doesn't think that Mr.____ will allow any wife of his to wear pants. Shug lets Celie in on a little secret. When they were courting years ago, Shug tried on Albert's pants, and he tried on her skirt. Shug remembers that he used to be a lot of fun. The women plan to sew and read Nettie's letters together from then on.
Celie tells God that she is excited for Nettie's return and plans to leave home with her and their children as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Shug informs her that incest is the devil's plan and she worries that her children will become dunces.
Nettie's next letter details her exploration of a small village in Africa, led by Joseph, an African with a Christian name. She is part of a massive welcome ceremony and learns the history of the legends of the people of Olinka and the superstitions of the villagers. She asks Celie what to make of such adventures. Her next letter discusses the education. Nettie wakes up at 5am and works all day, teaching English to only the boys of the village. The Olinka women are not allowed to become educated, so Olivia is the only girl with a myriad men. She tells Olivia not to worry, because she will grow up to become more than the chief's wife, which is what every woman in Olinka aspires to be. She hopes Olivia will become a nurse or teacher and travel all over the world with Christ in her heart. Nettie desperately wants a picture of Celie to hang in her trunk with her other religious icons.
The family meets Tashi, a little Olinka girl who plays with Olivia after classes, but does not participate in the classes. Her parents cannot understand what is wrong with her, because she finishes her tasks so quickly so that she may play with Olivia in the afternoons. They confront Nettie, wondering why Tashi is learning so much when all she needs to do is stay at home with her mother and learn womanly duties. Nettie realizes that Tashi is learning information and tasks that she will never use. Tashi's parents forbid her from going to Olivia's in the afternoon, and instead allow Olivia to see her infrequently. Nettie sees this as a good opportunity to learn a valuable lesson about life, and teaches Olivia about the cultural differences between Africa and America, and the gender differences between men and women.