Part 4: pg. 152-201 Notes from The Color Purple

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The Color Purple Part 4: pg. 152-201

White road builders begin to construct a road in Olinka, excited at the prospect of cultivating civilization. The dynamics between the villagers and the road-builders is amorous and respectful. Nettie can hardly believe that she has been in Africa for nearly five years. The children are grown to her height and are on the cusp of surpassing their parents' education. Samuel and Corrine think of sending them back to the Western World to continue their educational growth, but Nettie cannot bear to think of Africa without them. Besides they love living in huts and playing with the villagers. They do, however, find problems with male and female friendships. Since one man may have several wives, the wives become close friends - almost like sisters, and are not allowed to have any male companions aside from their husbands. Corrine, therefore, asks Nettie not to be alone with Samuel without Corrine present, so that the villagers do not misunderstand her intentions. The women are not respected in Olinka and can be killed instantly if believed to be unfaithful or unscrupulous. Nettie wishes Celie a Merry Christmas, as they celebrate the holiday on the "dark" continent.

Topic Tracking: Family 10

Nettie writes to Celie a year after the road construction begins. She has waited so long because things have been difficult in Olinka. After the road was completed, villagers celebrate with picnics and walking to and from the road. However, the road builders announce that they will continue construction thirty miles past Olinka. Unfortunately, they build it straight through Tashi's mother's garden and the rest of the village. Nettie's school and home are leveled and the white men move in and claim to own the land. They charge the Olinka rent to live on it, even though the Olinka have lived there forever. Nettie is frustrated with the Olinka, for when she explains the history of slavery to them they are saddened, but refuse to take any responsibility for it. Meanwhile, Corrine falls ill with African fever, a disease that has taken the lives of many previous missionaries, and things have changed a bit with schooling.

"The boys now accept Olivia and Tashi in class and more mothers are sending their daughters to school. The men do not like it: who wants a wife who knows everything her husband knows? they fume. But the women have their ways, and they love their children, even their girls." Part 4, pg. 157

Unfortunately, Corrine's illness worsens, and Nettie is forced to take on all her duties, as well as tend to her. Corrine resents Nettie and wonders why her children look like her. She finally asks Nettie if when she met Samuel, secretly thinking that they are her children with her husband. They all swear on the bible that Nettie met Samuel the same day she met Corrine. Olivia and Adam don't even know that they are adopted, but wonder why their mother never wants to be near them. Nettie informs Celie that everyone is sad in Africa and hopes that things are better for her in America.

Topic Tracking: Family 11

Nettie's next letter brings new and valuable information to Celie about their heritage. Apparently Samuel also believed Nettie to be his children's biological mother. Before he became a preacher and born-again-Christian, he ran with some bad company who knew of a devastating local story. Years ago, a colored farmer was run out of town, lynched, beaten, and burned. After his death, his wife became crazy, despite their young children, and gave birth to a baby when she learned of her husband's death. Eventually, she married a strange man who chased her for years, went crazy, and eventually died. The babies were Celie and Nettie. Nettie realizes that she and Celie are not who they believe. Their pa is not their pa. Instead, their true parents were killed and crazy years earlier. Nettie prays that this letter, above all others, reaches Celie's hands safely.

Topic Tracking: Family 12

Celie addresses God in shock, terrified of her past and confused as to her future. Her father was lynched and mother went crazy; her entire world a façade. Shug and Celie visit Pa together to confront him and learn the whereabouts of her parents' burial. He can barely remember Celie, and upon recollection with Shug's help, he introduces his new fifteen year-old wife, Daisy. Celie looks at him and remembers that he is only the father of her children, not her own father. She asks where her biological father is buried. He informs her that he is buried next to Celie's mother; however, because he was lynched, there is no marker. Shug and Celie visit the cemetery seeking her parents, but find nothing but old horseshoes and weeds. Shug tells Celie that they are each other's people now, and kisses her.

Topic Tracking: Family 13

Nettie writes to Celie about Corrine and Samuel. She desperately wants to tell them the truth, especially after learning the truth about her parents. Corrine's health is fading quickly and she is weak and unhappy. Corrine still does not believe Nettie, and Samuel has seen her belly, with the stretch marks of a mother. Nettie admits to being the children's aunt and how Celie and her are the children of the parents lynched and murdered. Samuel is shocked and Corrine lies in disbelief...still. "Oh Celie, unbelief is a terrible thing. And so is the hurt we cause others unknowingly. Pray for us" Part 4, pg. 169. Nettie continues to try and convince Corrine that she is the children's aunt and tries to help her remember meeting Celie in the cloth store that day years ago. Nettie even goes through Corrine's trunk of quilts to find the one she made when she met Celie. Finally Corrine realizes the truth and admits tearfully that she was terrified that Celie would want her daughter back. She immediately saw the resemblance and told nobody about the meeting that day. She had forced herself to forget and cried herself to sleep. Later that night, Corrine wakes up to tell Samuel she believes him, and then dies.

Nettie is in excruciating physical pain because of her monthly friend - menstruation - that arrives shortly after Corrine's death. Olivia gets her period for the first time after her mother's death as well, and Nettie assumes that she goes to Tashi for help. Menstruation and bleeding is frowned upon and hushed in the Olinka culture, so Nettie tries to continue work as if nothing has changed. Samuel seems lost, for he had never spent one night alone since his marriage to Corrine. He also feels terrible for not helping Celie earlier in America. If he had known who she was, he would have done something when Nettie asked for help. Nettie tells him not to worry, for nothing is ever truly known and there is so much that they do not understand. Nettie wishes Celie a happy holiday and Merry Christmas.

Celie now writes to Nettie, for she can no longer bear to address God. Shug is shocked to learn of Celie's doubt; she believes Celie has a good life, good health, and a woman who desperately loves her. "Yeah, I say, and he give me a lynched daddy, a crazy mama, a lowdown dog of a step pa and a sister I probably won't ever see again. Anyhow, I say, the God I been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgetful and lowdown" Part 4, pg. 175. Shug tries to calm Celie down so that God doesn't hear her ranting; but she does not care. Shug claims to be a sinner - a sinner who has more fun because she is not thinking and worrying about God all the time. She explains to Celie that God created all people and wants them to be happy, even while making love. Shug convinces Celie that sex is a Godly act and nothing sinful.

Shug continues speaking to Celie about God and her vision of God. She asks Celie what her image of God is, and responds that her own image is not a man or a woman - God is an "it" and wants nothing more than to be appreciated. Therefore, when she walks by a field and notices the color purple in it, she sees that it is God in the field. Furthermore, she tells Celie that somewhere in the bible it is written that Jesus had kinky hair. She knows that no white person would want to think or believe that, so they ignore it and picture a white man. Celie's image of God is the same as that of the white man - only bigger and with more hair. Shug tells Celie that even though she hardly prays, she always knows that God is there.

"Man corrupt everything, say Shug. He on your box of grits in your head, and all over the radio. He try to make you think he everywhere. Soon as you think he everywhere, you think he God. But he ain't. Whenever you trying to pray, and man plop himself on the other end of it, tell him to git lost, say Shug. Conjure up flowers, wind, water, a big rock. / But this hard work, let me tell you. He been there so long, he don't want to budge. He threaten lightening, floods and earth-quakes. Us fight. I hardly pray at all. Every time I conjure up a rock, I throw it." Part 4, pg. 179

Topic Tracking: Religion 7

Celie addresses Nettie in her letters now instead of God. She tells her all about her plans to move to Memphis with Shug and escape with her and the children when they return from Africa. She informs Nettie about the mayor's maid - how it is Sofia - Mr.____'s son's wife. Sofia has been working for the white couple for eleven and a half years by now and has practically raised their children. She is out on parole and visits the family. Half of her children are married and moved away, while the others don't recognize or like her. The youngest child, Henrietta, is Harpo's favorite, even though she does not belong to him. Between Squeak, Celie, and Harpo, the children have been raised well. Mr._____ erupts when Shug and Celie announce their departure together to Memphis, claiming he will not allow it or even give her a single penny. She didn't even want to marry him, why would she want to take his money. Squeak also wants to leave with them, for she wants to be Mary Agnes again and sing in front of large crowds. Sofia tells Squeak to go ahead with the others and she will look after things for her.

As they prepare to leave for Memphis, Grady continues to try and seduce Squeak, finding himself near her at all times. Mr._____ grows increasingly hostile towards Celie, telling her that she is poor, ugly, useless and cannot sing. Therefore, he thinks she'll return home immediately, for she is not prepared to do anything but live as Shug's maid. After fighting constantly, Celie bursts, realizing that Mr._____ is right. Shug holds her and loves her as they arrive in Memphis, forcing her to forget all the cruel comments made by Albert.

Shug's Memphis home is grand, large, and comfortable. Her bed is round and silky and she gives Squeak and Grady as much space as they want. On tour, Shug sings all the time, drinks, and eats much junk food. Celie starts to sew pants. She works over and over again to perfect the art of pant making and spending Shug's money. She finally makes an ideal pair for Jack, who finds them the most comfortable and useful drawstring pants ever worn. Celie sends some home to Odessa and Jack, makes new ones for Shug, and becomes the treasure of seamstresses around the region. Soon everywhere Shug sings, people want to order the pants. Shug turns her kitchen room into a factory and Celie starts her own business, Folkspants, Unlimited. She writes to Nettie: "I am making some pants for you to beat the heat in Africa. Soft, white, thin. Drawstring waist. You won't ever have to feel too hot and overdress again. I plan to make them by hand. Every stitch I sew will be a kiss" Part 4, pg. 192.

In her letter to Nettie, Celie expresses her extreme happiness and elation to be living in Memphis with Shug. She has money, friends, love, and work. Jerene and Darlene are twins who work for Celie's company as seamstresses. During the sewing day, Darlene teases Celie about being a hick from the country because she speaks English incorrectly, saying "us" instead of "we" and so on and so forth. She tries to bring her books to read so people don't look down upon her; she does so also so that Shug isn't embarrassed to take her anywhere. Shug responds that Celie can speak any way she wants so long as she's happy and drinks tea and gets anything she wants. She is not embarrassed in the least.

Celie comes home to visit, looking different - sophisticate and attractive - wearing pants and flowers. Mr._____ does not even recognize her. Harpo and Sofia are arguing over her sisters serving as the pallbearers for her mother's funeral. Harpo thinks women should stay at home and cook, while Sofia cannot understand any problem with her amazon sisters carrying their beloved mother to her grave. The talk about Grady and Squeak constantly together on drugs. Harpo wonders if Celie ever tried smoking the weed about which they speak. She says that she has smoked when she speaks to God and when she makes love and during important times like that. The family then lights a joint, smoking and laughing together.

Celie returns home for the funeral alone, for Shug has to work. Celie starts to notice how Mr._____ is clean now. At the funeral, he seems to be trying to find religion, as he is solemn and worshipful. With twelve children and countless more grandchildren, Sofia's mother's funeral filled the entire church. Afterwards, she notices how sick Henrietta is, for she suffers from a blood-clotting disease. Celie tries to recall Nettie's letters, in which she details remedies for blood clots. After she leaves, Sofia tells Celie that Mr._____ grew increasingly dirty and smelly, living like a pig. Harpo also grew into a fat stout man who sleeps next to his daddy every night. The father and son team become inseparable.

Topic Tracking: Religion 8

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