The Color Purple Part 5: pg. 202-251
Nettie writes to Celie that she is so excited to see her, not realizing it has been nearly thirty years. She wonders what she looks like, if she has gray hair and is fat, like herself. Nettie also tells Celie that she and Samuel were married in England recently and are working desperately for the Olinka people, who have no money and are now forced to pay for everything around them. They begin to acknowledge temporary defeat. On the trip back to England, Samuel and Nettie meet an elderly white woman named Doris who introduces a small African boy to everyone as her grandson Harold. She speaks garrulously about her youth as a wealthy English-girl and how she hates aristocracy and never wanted to marry. She realizes that she fooled everyone by working as a missionary and secretly writing novels (penned under the name Jared Hunt) that are a miraculous success in both England and America. She dispels her desire to help others and discusses her large family of adopted grandchildren.
When Nettie and Samuel meet with the bishop in England about their post in Olinka, he comments on their relationship together, worried that since they had been platonic and brotherly while Corrine was alive, the natives might look poorly upon their new romantic and sexual union. They will have one month left to stay in Africa. Samuel storms out and tells the Olinka that they have no choice but to join the forest savages. Samuel begins to speak about his youth and courtship with Corrine. They both came from the north in America, where their aunts were missionaries. Corrine attended Spelman Seminary, a locale for many mixed races. Samuel thinks about his older family and dreams for his new one, and looks around at Olinka for the last month he is there. He loves and respects all of them, except for the female initiation ceremony at puberty. However, the natives do not understand him and the other African Americans. They don't understand racism or the difficulty with the language or why anyone would want to continue moving. He breaks down in Nettie's arms, when they embrace passionately and make love. Nettie admits to her deep and sincere love for Samuel, as a person, friend, and lover. They inform the children of their plan to marry and tell them all about Corrine, Aunt Nettie, and Celie. They are excited to return and meet her. However, despite the news, Adam and Olivia miss their friends in Olinka - namely Tashi. Adam thinks he loves her, while Tashi is lost in the Olinka culture, preparing for her female circumcision and ceremonial facial scarring. Olivia and Adam pray that she does not participate in it, fearing for her health and sanity. Nettie and Celie's new brother, Samuel, send Celie their love in this letter, prepared to see them face-to-face soon enough.
Upon their return to Olinka, the villages welcome Nettie, Samuel, Olivia, and Adam with great joy, until they learn of their impending permanent departure. Olivia and Adam seek Tashi, who hides in her hut with new facial ceremonial scarring and female circumcision. She looks ill, week, and ashamed to have participated in an aging ceremony that she realized is unsanitary and life threatening. Adam will not even take her hand and spends the remainder of the month desperate to leave Olinka. It is not only that he has gotten used to the Western way of living, but he cannot bear to deal with his conflicting feelings for Tashi, a woman he loves, but who has chosen a different path. Nettie continues her work in anticipation of a return home:
"Samuel and I are truly happy, Celie. And so grateful to God that we are! We still keep a school for the littlest children; those eight and over are already workers in the fields. In order to pay rent for the barracks, taxes on the land, and to buy water and wood and food, everyone must work. So, we teach the young ones, babysit the babies, look after the old and sick, and attend birthing mothers. Our days are fuller than ever, our sojourn in England already a dream. But all things look brighter because I have a loving soul to share them with." Part 5, pg. 214
Celie tells Nettie that the man they knew as their pa is now dead. His name was Alphonso and his young, pregnant wife, Daisy called Celie to inform her that her real father owned the house and left it to her and to her sister. Initially, Celie does not want it, for it is tainted with Pa's evil aura. However, Shug urges her to take the house. When she does so, she realizes she has her own home (even larger than Shug's) and a store in which she can sell her pants. She and Shug light sweet smelling candles all over the house to chase away the evil spirits and await Nettie and her family. Now, they all have a place in which they can live together independently.
Celie is brokenhearted because she believes Shug loves someone else. While Celie was away from Memphis working on the house, Shug started a fling with a nineteen year old boy in her band. At nearly sixty, a chubby Shug could hardly believe that sex with a man is still good. At a Chinese food restaurant, Shug tells Celie the news through a fortune in a fortune cookie. Celie's heart breaks instantly and refuses to speak until Shug begs her, with tears in her eyes, not to leave. She loves her so much, but just needs this short fling for no more than six months. "Celie, she say, Do you love me? She down on her knees by now, tears falling all over the place. My heart hurt so much I can't believe it. How can it keep beating, feeling like this? But I'm a woman. I love you, I say. Whatever happen, whatever you do, I love you" Part 5, pg. 221. Then, the boy arrives and Shug leaves with him in his car.
Celie tries to pass the time back home. She helps Henrietta with her blood clots, using the methods Nettie told her about from Africa. She also spends time with Mr.______, peacefully and honestly. He tells her that she looks great now and Celie replies that Shug takes good care of her. She tells him that she makes her money making pants - the pants the entire family wears and loves. As they spend more time together, Mr._____ wonders if Celie doesn't like him because he is a man. Celie tells him that she believes all men are like frogs, and continues to make more and more maternity pants.
Suddenly Celie writes to Nettie in horror. The only letter Mr._____ physically places in her hand is a telegram from the government stating that the ship on which she sailed from Africa with her family had been sunk by the Germans outside a place called Gibraltar. The government believes them to have drowned. The same day, all of Celie's letters are returned to her - unopened. Celie now believes there is no happiness left in the world; life is nothing more than a strain.
Nettie wonders what Celie is like, after nearly thirty years of separation. She tells of her plans to find a church with Samuel in the neighborhood without idols, for they have no specific image of God anymore. This invisible image frees them, and consequently they worship a spirit instead of a white man. Tashi and her mother have run away to join the Mbeles, the forest savages, and will never be seen from again. She worries about Adam and Olivia's naivety back in the states, after living their entire lives in Africa. In the middle of her sentence, Nettie stops writing, only to return a day later stating that Adam is missing. Nettie believes that has probably gone looking for Tashi.
Celie wonders if Shug ever truly loved her. She looks at herself in the mirror, with her short and kinky hair, and doubts her self-worth and attractiveness. Celie receives postcards from Shug and Germaine every once in a while from all over the United States and even Panama (where Mary Agnes and Grady have moved). Celie spends most of her time with Mr.____, who blames no longer for the pain in her life. He thinks she must hate him for hiding Nettie's letters so long and for lying to her for so many years. He is even more shocked to learn about Celie's children, unable to believe that they are being raised in Africa, and that they come from Celie's stepfather. Celie cannot hate Mr.____ for two reasons: He loves Shug and Shug used to love him. Celie realizes that her job in life is to love Shug no matter what she does. Therefore she cannot blame Shug for leaving her to travel and have an affair with a younger man. It is not Shug's fault that Celie loves her so much. She simply misses her friendship.
Sofia and Harpo perpetually try to set Celie up with men, wondering if Celie even likes them anymore. Sofia tells Celie that she cannot stop thinking about a particular man named Stanley Earl. Unfortunately, Eleanor Jane becomes pregnant with his baby, Reynolds Stanley Earl, and marries him under Sofia's eyes. Reynolds Stanley Earl is a boisterous little baby who loves to play with Henrietta and the rest of Celie's family. Eleanor Jane and Sofia fall into a terrible fight and must work out their problems, especially now that she is a new mother. Eleanor Jane is the only white person Sofia loves, and although she is no replacement for her own children, Eleanor Jane's presence and friendship made living in the white people's house for so many years bearable. On the contrary, Eleanor Jane loves Sofia as a mother, for she realizes that her own parents don't love her as much as her brother, Junior. However, when Eleanor Jane marries Stanley Earl, their beautiful union is broken. Sofia breaks the harsh news to Eleanor Jane about Reynolds' future life. She admits that she cannot possibly love the baby for reasons of living as a colored person in America and he must be prepared for the harsh realities of prejudice and privilege.
The six months promised by Shug have come and gone and Celie is still left alone with Mr.______. She is miserable, for she believes she has lost everyone she loved. Germaine is Shug's companion with whom she travels to New York and around the country. Shug writes to Celie telling her that she is visiting her children - the ones who want to see her. James, the only one who cares is living on an Indian Reservation as the "white black man," with his wife Cora.
Mr.____ wonders what Celie loves so much about Shug. They continue talking and Celie realizes that he is not that terrible a person and furthermore, not so terribly unattractive, now that he's grooming himself and trying to better his life spiritually. They think of Shug and Sofia as manly women; or at least as women who don't seem or act like women. They speak their minds and are honest and strong. Mr.____ and Harpo, however, are more timid and unlike the typical man.
Celie begins to tell Mr.____ all about Nettie's life in Africa with the Olinka. She brings him an entirely new perspective on life, the bible, and the story of Adam and Eve. The Africans see Adam as the first white man, and everyone who came before him as black. Black is white and white is black and nakedness is whiteness. Mr.____ enjoys learning from Celie's stories. "Took me long enough to notice you such good company, he say. And he laugh. / He ain't Shug, but he begin to be somebody I can talk to" Part 5, pg. 241. Celie still receives letters from Nettie, even though she is believed dead.
Nettie reports in her next letter that Adam and Tashi have returned from the Mbeles looking like savage beasts. They are wild with excitement and information about the mini-societies these people run. Adam plans to take Tashi back to America with him as his wife, no matter how much she fears nobody will like or understand her. Tashi admits to her fears for marriage in America, for the black people do not like dark-skinned black people like her and will look down upon her for her facial scarring. She fears Adam will want to be with someone else and leave her alone with no family, no country, and no husband. The following day, Adam arrives with the same facial scarring as Tashi, and they marry in a beautiful Olinka ceremony. The next day, the family leaves for the dock to come home to America.
Celie writes to Nettie about her mundane days at home, in which Mr.____ speaks with Shug about her attempts to contact the State Department to inquire about Nettie's sunken ship. Celie simply writes more and more letters to Nettie and awaits her return. Alphonso, a white clerk, and Sofia work in her Folkspants store, while Eleanor Jane looks after Henrietta for Sofia. They have found a way to make up and help one another when necessary. Furthermore, Harpo and Sofia have found each other's love again, and he is thrilled that Sofia is working. He kisses her on her stitched nose with love. Celie spends much of her time talking with Mr.____ about her past and present. She realizes how much he has changed; he still loves Shug desperately and recalls their time together. He also realizes that many people love her, while she is the only person who loves him (or loved him), and becomes melancholy at such a lonely thought.
"I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know noting more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love." Part 5, pg. 247
Just as Celie believes Mr. ____ is about to ask her to marry him again, she receives word that Shug is returning to her. Celie cannot contain her excitement, but reminds herself that her world will still be content if Shug does not come home to her. Soon enough, Shug arrives and hugs Celie with all her strength, declaring her everlasting love and expressing her emotions. Germaine, the boy, is now in college and seems almost like a son or grandson to Shug now. As Celie shows Shug the house, Shug becomes slightly jealous of her and Mr.___ spending so much time together. Secretly happy, Celie forgets about it and they embrace once again.
One day, Celie thanks God and the trees and the sky and everything around her for bringing her family home together. A car pulls up with an elderly Samuel, Nettie, and three sturdy adults: Olivia, Adam, and Tashi. They embrace, with tears falling down their cheeks, and introduce each other's families to one another - now to be one. Mary Agnes has returned from Panama and left Grady and on this July 4th, the re-united family celebrates their own independence.
"I feel a little peculiar round the children. For one thing they grown. And I see they think me and Nettie and Shug and Albert and Samuel and Harpo and Sofia and Jack and Odessa real old and don't know much what going on. But I don't think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt." Part 5, pg. 251