Letters 1–9: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who is Lucious?

2. What is Celie’s answer when her mother asks her “Whose child is it”?

3. What does Celie think happened to her second child?

4. How old is Celie’s new mother?

5. How did Mr.____’s previous wife die?

6. Why is Celie beaten by her father after she goes to church?

7. How many children does Mr.____ have?

8. Why does Celie’s father reject Mr.____’s request to marry Nettie?

9. According to Celie’s father, why will Celie be a better wife to Mr.____ than Nettie?

10. How long does it take for Mr.____ to decide to marry Celie?

1. Lucious is Celie’s newborn brother.

2. Celie says that the child is God’s.

3. Celie thinks that her father killed her first child, but believes that he sold her second child.

4. Celie’s father marries a woman who is as old as Celie.

5. Supposedly, Mr.____’s previous wife was shot by her boyfriend when she left church.

6. Her father hits her because he thinks that she winked at a boy in church.

7. Mr.____ says he has three children, but Celie discovers that he actually has four children.

8. Nettie’s father thinks Nettie is too young for a man like Mr.____. He has heard the rumors about the death of Mr.____’s previous wife and his relationship with Shug Avery. He also has made plans for Nettie to become a schoolteacher.

9. Celie is not as pretty as Nettie, “but she ain’t no stranger to hard work,” according to her father. He also says that “God done fixed her,” meaning that Mr.____ can still do whatever he wants without worrying about interference from Celie.

10. Three months pass before Mr.____ decides to marry Celie.

Letters 10–12: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Celie know that it is her daughter at the store?

2. What is Olivia’s foster mother buying at the general store, and why?

3. How old is Olivia now?

4. Why does Nettie show up at Mr.____’s farm?

5. Why does Celie start to feel good about herself?

6. How does Celie react to Nettie’s concern about leaving her alone with Mr.____?

7. Why do Mr.____’s sisters begin to gossip, even though “it not nice to speak ill of the dead”?

8. How does Celie compare with Mr.____’s previous wife, according to Kate and Carrie?

9. What color does Celie want for her dress, and what color does she end up buying?

10. Why does Harpo refuse at first when Kate asks him to bring in a bucket of water?

1. The little girl has Celie’s eyes.

2. Olivia’s foster mother is buying some fabric and thread so that she can make dresses for herself and her daughter.

3. Olivia will be seven in November.

4. Nettie couldn’t take living at home with Pa and might try to find help for the smaller children.

5. Nettie passes on all the compliments that she receives from Mr.____ to Celie.

6. Celie is philosophical, saying that God is still with her.

7. Even though they gossip about Annie Julia, Mr.____’s last wife, they insist that it is still the truth.

8. Celie is a much better housekeeper than Annie Julia ever was, according to Kate and Carrie. Furthermore, she takes care of the children and cooks very well. Kate and Carrie both consider Mr.____ to be a bit ungrateful to have such a good wife and not appreciate her.

9. Celie wants a purple dress, but can’t find any purple fabric. She settles for a blue dress.

10. Harpo tells Kate that fetching water is “women work.”

Letters 13-18: Questions and Answers

Study Questions

1. What is the reason that Mr.____ gives Harpo for beating his wife?

2. How old is Harpo when he falls in love, and how old is the girl with whom he falls in love?

3. How does Celie know that Shug Avery is going to play at the Lucky Star?

4. Why does Celie want to go to the club?

5. Why does Celie follow Mr.____ back from the cotton fields?

6. Describe Harpo’s recurring nightmare.

7. What does Sofia ask Celie for?

8. Where do Sofia and Harpo eventually marry?

9. Why does Mr.____ start to pay Harpo wages for working?

10. What does Mr.____ mean when he says to Harpo, “I see now she going to switch the traces on you”?

1. Mr.____ says that he beats her because she is his wife and “she stubborn.”

2. Harpo is 17, and the girl he is in love with is 15.

3. Celie finds an advertisement for the club.

4. Celie wants “to lay eyes on her.”

5. Celie thinks that Mr.____ is sick, when he is still not over his weekend with Shug Avery.

6. Harpo dreams that he is a witness to his mother’s murder, and ends up cradling his dead mother in his arms.

7. Sofia asks Celie for a glass of water.

8. Sofia and Harpo marry at Sofia’s sister’s house.

9. Mr.____ thinks that wages will encourage Harpo to work harder.

10. Mr.____ means that Sofia is treating Harpo like he is a workhorse. It also implies that Harpo is not acting like “a man” because he does what Sofia wants him to do.

Letters 19–21: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why are Sofia and Harpo arguing at the beginning of this section?

2. Describe Harpo’s wounds.

3. What excuse does Harpo give for his wounds?

4. What does Celie do to try to make herself sleep?

5. How much does Sofia pay Celie for use of her curtains?

6. What will happen if Celie continues to advise Harpo?

7. Why does Sofia feel sorry for Celie?

8. How many children does Sofia’s father have?

9. What does Celie mean when she tells Sofia that sometimes she has to talk with Old Maker?

10. What does Sofia think Celie should do with Mr.____?

1. Harpo thinks that Sofia spends too much time with her

2. Harpo has a black eye and a cut lip. He also has a hurt hand and he is walking stiffly.

3. Harpo claims that he was kicked by an angry mule, and then walked into the crib door at home. Then, during the evening, he accidentally closed the window on his hand.

4. Celie tries to stay up as late as possible. Before she goes to bed, she takes a warm bath. Then, she puts a little witch hazel on her pillow and makes sure the room is completely dark. If that doesn’t work, she tries drinking a little milk, counting the fence posts, and reading the Bible to fall asleep.

5. Sofia tries to give Celie a dollar for the use of her curtains.

6. Sofia says that if Celie wants a dead son-in-law she should simply keep on advising him like she did before.

7. Celie reminds Sofia of her own mother, who never stood up to her husband.

8. Sofia’s father has 12 children—six boys and six girls.

9. Celie means that she talks with God whenever Mr.____ begins to abuse her.

10. Sofia thinks that Celie should kill Mr.____ now and think about heaven later.

Letters 22–27: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Shug Avery’s nickname?

2. How does the priest characterize Shug in his sermon?

3. Celie says that there is “one good thing” about the fact that Mr.____ doesn’t do any work on the farm. What is that thing?

4. How does Shug survive when she is sicker than Celie’s mama when she died?

5. How many kids has Shug had with Mr.____?

6. Where are Shug’s kids now?

7. Describe Mr.____’s father.

8. What can Mr.____ vouch for about Shug?

9. What does Tobias bring for Shug?

10. Why does Tobias wish his wife, Margaret, was a lot more like Celie?

1. She is known as the Queen Honeybee.

2. Shug is the nameless “strumpet in short skirts, smoking cigarettes, drinking gin.”

3. Since Mr.____ never does work in the field, Celie and Harpo never miss him when he leaves the farm.

4. Celie says that Shug is able to survive because she is “more evil than my mama.”

5. Shug Avery has had three children with Mr.____.

6. Shug’s children are now staying with her mother.

7. Old Mr.____ is “a little short shrunk up man with a bald head and gold spectacles.” He clears his throat “like everything he say need announcement.”

8. Mr.____ knows that all of Shug’s children have the same

9. Tobias brings a box of chocolate for Shug.

10. Tobias wishes that Margaret was “always busy” like Celie so that she could save [him] a bundle of money.

Letters 28–31: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What reasons does Celie give for eating?

2. What is clabber?

3. List what Harpo eats when he visits Celie.

4. What is meant when Harpo is asked “When is it due?”

5. Where does Harpo end up sleeping after his fight with Sofia?

6. After Harpo and Sofia fight, Harpo appears at Celie’s house with two black eyes. What bruises does Sofia have?

7. When Mr.____ and Celie have sex, how long does it take for both of them to fall asleep?

8. What does Sofia take when she leaves?

9. Describe Sofia’s sisters.

10. What does Harpo pretend to do while Sofia packs up her things?

1. Celie says that some people eat because “food taste good,” while others “love to feel they mouth work.” Sometimes, it also “might be a case of being undernourish.”

2. Clabber is the thick, sour milk that collects on a butter churn.

3. Harpo eats a piece of fried chicken, a slice of blueberry pie, a glass of clabber, and a slice of cornbread.

4. Harpo has become so fat that he begins to look like he is pregnant.

5. Harpo sleeps in a bed next to Shug’s room.

6. Sofia has only a scratch on her wrist.

7. Both Celie and Mr.____ are asleep in ten minutes.

8. Sofia takes the children and their clothes, as well as her own clothes. In addition she takes a mattress, a looking glass, and a rocking chair.

9. To Celie, Sofia’s sisters “look like amazons.”

10. Harpo is pretending to make a fish net while he is waiting for Sofia to leave.

Letters 32–36: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the name of Harpo’s new club?

2. Why is Harpo puzzled by Shug?

3. How does Shug describe the first time she made love with Mr.____?

4. What does having sex with Mr.____ feel like to Celie?

5. What was the best thing about having children for Celie?

6. How does Shug act like a man?

7. What does Harpo consider a scandal?

8. What is Buster’s “job,” with regards to Sofia?

9. How did Squeak get her nickname?

10. What does “teenouncy” mean?

1. Harpo’s new club is called “Harpo’s.”

2. Harpo is confused by Shug’s willingness to...

(The entire section is 258 words.)

Letters 37-41: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Harpo mope?

2. What does Miss Millie always do, according to her husband?

3. What does Buster do while Sofia is getting beaten?

4. When the sheriff says that Sofia is crazy, how does Mr.____ reply?

5. How badly is Sofia injured from her beating by the police?

6. Who takes care of Sofia’s children while Sofia is in jail?

7. How often is Sofia visited by her friends?

8. What does Squeak remember about her uncle?

9. What is the warden’s justification for what he does to Squeak?

10. What does Mary Agnes mean when she asks Harpo if he loves her or her color?


(The entire section is 362 words.)

Letters 42–44: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who writes the songs that Mary Agnes sings?

2. Is Mary Agnes still mad that Sofia knocked out her teeth?

3. Why do Sofia’s children love Mary Agnes?

4. Why does Celie consider it impossible to “kill off” the whites?

5. Why does Miss Millie ask the mayor for a car?

6. How does the mayor get revenge for Millie’s insistence?

7. What does Miss Millie mean when she tells Sofia that “this is the South”?

8. How do all of Sofia’s children react when she shows up?

9. What does Miss Millie intend to do?

10. What actually happens that day with Sofia and Millie?


(The entire section is 392 words.)

Letters 45–48: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Mr.____ think the surprise will be?

2. What doesn’t Celie like about Grady at their first meeting?

3. How did Shug and Grady meet?

4. What would Shug do if she were Celie’s husband?

5. Why does Shug ask Celie if they could sleep together?

6. What are the “freakish things” that Shug thought was only done by “white folks”?

7. What does sleeping with Shug feel like to Celie?

8. How does Grady spend Shug’s money, according to Celie?

9. Where is Grady from?

10. What does Shug mean when she tells Harpo that his nightclub singer “can’t get her ass out the church”?


(The entire section is 305 words.)

Letters 49–51: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What do stamps look like, according to Celie?

2. What does Nettie’s letter look like?

3. How does Shug cover for Celie’s theft of Mr.____’s razor?

4. What is Shug’s real name, and why is she called Shug?

5. Describe Shug’s relationship with her parents.

6. What did Shug’s sister do for a living?

7. List the things Albert used to do when he went out with Shug.

8. How does Shug describe Annie Julia?

9. Why did Shug want Albert to choose her?

10. What does Shug mean when she says “what was good tween us must have been nothing but bodies?”

1. Celie...

(The entire section is 366 words.)

Letters 52–60: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Nettie correct herself when she says that Corrine and Samuel have been “like family to me”?

2. Why does Nettie still write to Celie after she realizes that Mr.____ won’t let her have these letters?

3. What does Nettie want to tell Corrine and Samuel about their children, who “were sent by God” to them?

4. When does Nettie come into contact with American prejudice?

5. How do the people of Harlem feel about Africa?

6. How do the so-called “Europeans” of the Missionary Society differ from the “Africans,” according to Nettie?

7. What is the name of the ship that takes Nettie across the Atlantic?


(The entire section is 482 words.)

Letters 61-63: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Celie learn about the weather in Africa?

2. Describe Joseph, the guide and translator.

3. What does Nettie notice about the Africans’ teeth?

4. How does Nettie describe the jungle?

5. What happened to the white missionary who was at the Olinka village?

6. What food is served at the welcoming ceremony?

7. Describe Nettie’s daily routine.

8. How is Olivia treated at school?

9. What does Tashi’s father want Nettie to do?

10. Why does the way Olinka men speak to women remind Nettie of Pa?

1. Celie learns that it is “hot like cooking dinner on a big...

(The entire section is 312 words.)

Letters 64–69: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Nettie proud of the villagers as they talk with the roadbuilders?

2. How have Adam and Olivia changed during their five years in Africa?

3. Describe an Olinka funeral.

4. How is Samuel made uneasy by the relationships between men and women in the Olinka village?

5. What does Nettie mean when she says “a grown child is a dangerous thing”?

6. How does Corrine treat the children now?

7. Why does Corrine want to examine Nettie’s stomach?

8. How did Celie’s mother become mentally unstable after her first husband died, according to the story?

9. What is the “key” to handling white people,...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

Letters 70–73: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. When Nettie tells Samuel and Corrine the entire story about Celie, what shocks Samuel the most?

2. What did the dry goods store smell like on the day Celie and Corrine met?

3. What does Corrine mean when she says to Nettie, “Don’t touch my things. I’m not dead yet”?

4. What did Corrine remember about the clerk at the dry goods store?

5. From what college did Corrine graduate?

6. What do the villagers think about women who menstruate?

7. What is Celie’s description of God?

8. Is God a man or woman, according to Shug?

9. Why doesn’t God think that sex is dirty according to Shug?


(The entire section is 267 words.)

Letters 74–77: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who is “Mama” to Sofia’s children?

2. What is the “welcome mat” that Celie is going to use to “enter Creation”?

3. What is wrong with Miss Eleanor’s family?

4. Why must Sofia “act nice”?

5. What is the curse that Celie puts on Mr.____?

6. Why does Shug give Celie a bedroom in the back of the house?

7. What kind of pants does Mary Agnes pick out for herself?

8. Describe how Celie designs a pair of pants for Jack.

9. Does Celie care about Darlene’s teaching her to speak correctly?

10. What does Shug feel about Celie’s speech?

1. Sofia’s...

(The entire section is 322 words.)

Letters 78–79: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How is Harpo’s and Sofia’s house different from before?

2. What will Sofia’s sisters look like as pallbearers, according to Harpo? What is Sofia’s reply?

3. Why must Sofia always have things her own way?

4. How much does one of Grady’s cigarettes cost?

5. Why is marijuana like whiskey, according to Celie?

6. How does Celie reply when Sofia tells her that Mr.____ is “trying to git religion”?

7. What does Mr.____ say about Sofia’s mother?

8. What does Celie try to remember about Nettie’s letters?

9. What was Mr.____ most scared of when he slept alone?

10. Is it easy for Sofia to...

(The entire section is 337 words.)

Letters 80–81: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How is Nettie surprised by her own appearance?

2. What do Nettie and Samuel now do for the Olinka tribe?

3. What are the signs all over Africa that a war is coming?

4. Why does Doris decide against becoming a nun?

5. What is the pseudonym of Doris Baines?

6. What pleasure is Doris willing to pay handsomely for?

7. What do people that meet Samuel and Nettie on the street in England always say?

8. What are some of the questions that the Olinka tribe always asked the missionaries?

9. What would have happened if Adam struck Tashi?

10. What does Nettie call Samuel in the postscript of her letter to...

(The entire section is 300 words.)

Letters 82–85: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How come Celie still calls Alphonso “Pa”?

2. What does Alphonso leave Daisy?

3. How many children is Daisy left with?

4. What fortune does Celie read from her fortune cookie?

5. What did Shug feel about Grady?

6. What has happened to Grady and Mary Agnes?

7. Why does Shug talk about Cuba?

8. Name a recipe that Mr.____ devises to hide the taste of yams.

9. Why does the thought of getting pregnant make Celie want to cry?

10. What supposedly happens to Nettie’s ship?

1. Celie says that it is “too late to call him Alphonso.”

2. Daisy is left...

(The entire section is 311 words.)

Letters 86–87: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Samuel pretty confident that his family will not get malaria, even though there is an epidemic in the village?

2. What sort of church does Nettie and Samuel hope to found in America?

3. Why do the Olinka have “shallow” relationships with the missionaries?

4. Name some of the places that Shug and Germaine visit.

5. What does Eleanor Jane do to Sofia that is more annoying than complaining about her problems?

6. According to Stanley Earl, why do white folks “turn out so well”?

7. How does Sofia feel about little Reynolds Stanley Earl?

8. When did Shug’s parents die?

9. What does Mr.____ mean...

(The entire section is 360 words.)

Letters 88–90: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How long were Adam and Tashi gone?

2. What would Tashi still have if Adam deserted her?

3. What happens when Sofia is called “auntie” by a white man?

4. What was the only thing Albert ever wanted in life?

5. Why does Albert think we are here on this earth?

6. What has happened to Germaine?

7. Will Shug ever sing again?

8. Why did Mary Agnes leave Grady?

9. What do people like to eat in Africa, according to Tashi?

10. Why does Celie feel a little peculiar around the children?

1. Adam and Tashi were gone for two and a half months.

2. Even if Adam...

(The entire section is 245 words.)