The Color Purple Letters 82–85: Summary and Analysis
by Alice Walker

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Letters 82–85: Summary and Analysis

New Character:
Germaine: a young musician

Summary
Celie gets a call from Daisy informing her that Alphonso, her stepfather, has died. Celie is unmoved by this until she finds out that she and Nettie have inherited his house and dry goods store. Celie wants to give up the house when Shug has a better idea. They go to the house with cedar sticks and use smoke to chase “out all the evil” and make “a place for good.” Celie now has a new store to sell pants.

Unfortunately, while she fixes up her home she is barraged with bad news. Shug tells her that she met a young man one night, and that she is going out on the road with him. Celie is shocked, and cannot believe her. She tells Shug that “if words could kill, I’d be in the ambulance,” but Shug keeps talking, trying to make her understand that she feels old now and she needs to be with a man once again. She pleads with Celie to let her have six months for “my last fling.”

While Shug is gone, Celie helps Sofia try to cure Henrietta. Celie remembers a letter from Nettie that promoted yams as a cure, but Henrietta refuses to eat them. Mr.____ comes up with some recipes that help hide the taste of yams and impresses Celie with his house, which is cleaner than ever. She knows Mr.____ is turning over a new leaf when he places a letter in her hand. This letter, however, is a telegram saying that Nettie and Samuel’s ship has sunk off of Gibraltar. In light of this tragedy, Celie tries to keep sewing, but “being alive begin to seem like an awful strain” to her.

Analysis
Celie’s unexpected windfall seems like a blessing. Now that a woman like Celie possesses the capital to make a real difference in the lives of other people, she should be prepared to create an international network of support. Instead, she has to endure a greater test of faith than anything she had to suffer through as the wife of Mr.____. She must somehow cope with the loss of Nettie and Shug.

Shug’s revelation comes as a shock to Celie because she had really believed that...

(The entire section is 568 words.)