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The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

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Letters 19–21 Summary

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Last Updated April 27, 2023.

Harpo is questioning why Sofia refuses to obey his commands. Mr. ___ suggests that she needs to be physically disciplined with a beating. Although Celie is fond of Sofia, she advises Harpo to also resort to violence. When Harpo comes to visit again, he has visible bruises on his face and walks with difficulty. Later, Celie visits Sofia and Harpo's home and discovers that they are engaged in a brutal fight that has left their house in ruins. Celie eventually leaves and returns home.

Celie is experiencing a sense of remorse for instructing Harpo to physically harm Sofia, and as a result, she struggles to sleep for approximately a month. She is deeply afraid that Sofia will discover that she was the one who prompted Harpo to beat her. After some time, Harpo confesses to Sofia that Celie was the one who encouraged him to beat her, and Sofia returns the curtains that Celie had previously made for them.

When Sofia confronts Celie about her actions, Celie acknowledges that she gave such an instruction because of her envy towards Sofia's strength. Upon hearing this explanation, Sofia becomes calmer, and they engage in an honest and open conversation.

Sofia claims that she has had to struggle constantly throughout her entire life, and even though she cares for Harpo, she will never allow any man to abuse her. She questions how Celie can endure living with Mr. ____, and Celie replies that she doesn't focus on life on Earth, as "Heaven lasts forever." Once Sofia and Celie reconcile, they decide to create a quilt using the curtains that Sofia brought back. As a result, Celie is able to sleep peacefully at night.

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Letters 13-18 Summary

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Letters 22–27 Summary