Summary and Analysis Letter 15


Celie's earthy wisdom, in contrast to her child-like innocence, underscores every line of this short note to God. That is, Celie knows that her husband has a mistress, but she accepts the situation matter-of-factly; at the same time, she never once questions herself (as most women would) about why she herself isn't considered as valuable to her husband as his mistress is. Celie has a tragically small amount of self-worth. To Celie, all worth lies in Shug Avery. Celie knows so little about the true, objective worth of herself that she accepts the fact that her husband has so much sex with Shug that he's totally exhausted and almost sick when he returns home. Celie is grateful for crumbs; so long as she can share her husband with the fantastic Shug Avery, she can cope with life.

In the meantime, while her husband has been with Shug, Celie has worked like a mule in the fields, and she's done so for one reason only: she knows that she's expected to — "it bees that way." Celie accepts her narrowly defined, sexist, racist, black woman's role almost willingly, so long as she can dream of the glamorous Shug Avery and Shug's clothes, hair, and makeup. Celie even knows that Shug and

Mr. ________ have children, but she is not jealous — "it bees that way." Having access to Shug through Mr. ________ is enough. Celie and Shug have the relationship of picture and viewer, book and reader, and performer and audience. In fact, to Celie, Shug seems like a character in a familiar fairy tale: "Is she still the same old Shug, like in my picture?" Without having ever met Shug Avery, the idea of Shug is electrically real ("like snakes") to Celie.