Mostly black and white illustration of nine letters, one of them has been opened

The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

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Letters 28–31 Summary

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Last Updated February 17, 2023.

During an evening of working on a quilt together, Sofia inquires of Celie why men eat. She mentions that Harpo has been consuming a large amount of food lately, despite not being hungry. They both are puzzled about his behavior. On Harpo's next visit to Celie, he starts raiding the pantry and eating any available food, although he doesn't seem to derive any pleasure from it. Celie finds this baffling.

Harpo gains weight and appears at Celie's house one night, crying and with bruises around his eyes. Celie confronts him, suggesting that he had mistreated Sofia, an admirable woman, and questions his actions. Harpo confesses that it was Sofia who gave him the black eyes, but he is confused about why she won't heed his words.

Harpo desires to have Sofia obey his commands, but Celie intervenes and informs him that Mr.____ only married her to look after his children, and that she had no say in the decision. Celie also advises Harpo that Shug, whom Mr.____ wanted to wed, would not hesitate to inform him of his flaws, including the foul odor of his undergarments. This disclosure causes Harpo to weep and retch, as though he were expelling all the food he had consumed.

The following day, Celie goes to see Sofia and informs her that Harpo had been consuming more food to try to make himself bigger. He wanted to match Sofia's size so he could have more control over her. Sofia sadly agrees and confesses that she is tired of Harpo. She still loves him, but since they got married, he has been obsessed with trying to control her thoughts. Sofia thinks it might be better to go visit her sister, Odessa, who is now alone because her husband has been drafted. She confides in Celie that she hardly feels anything when she has sex with Harpo anymore, and the worst part is that she believes he doesn't care. "He enjoys it just the same, and the fact that he can do that makes me want to kill him."

Sofia is uncertain about her departure plans but chuckles and acknowledges her requirement for a break. Eventually, Sofia finalizes her decision to leave, and her sisters arrive to collect her and her kids. As a parting gift, Celie chooses to give Sofia the quilt they had been crafting together.

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Letters 22–27 Summary

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Letters 32–36 Summary