Summary and Analysis Letter 3


In this letter, Walker focuses on two key ideas: first, Celie tells God that she thinks that Fonso took his and Celie's second child, a boy, and sold it to a childless couple. Note here that Celie is relieved that her baby has been sold. Again we are stunned; theoretically, selling black children went out with the abolition of slavery. But we hear this young woman confess to happiness that this extraordinary, inhuman act of "salvation" has, in fact, happened to her baby. This is Walker's way of emphasizing the fact that life with Fonso is a deadly nightmare. Celie is grateful that her baby is far away from Fonso's vicious temper. We realize also that Fonso still has not told Celie precisely what he did with their first baby. At this point in the novel, Fonso seems little more than a one-dimensional, evil and wicked villain.

Celie's happiness because of her new baby's safety is short-lived because she herself is left with unneeded milk in her breasts, and she has no decent clothes to wear. As a result, Fonso becomes hateful and acts "like he can't stand me no more." Accordingly, Fonso's sexual lust turns from Celie to her younger sister Nettie.

Celie's adult-like concern for her younger sister Nettie is the second focus in this letter to God. Celie doesn't want Nettie to be sexually brutalized as she herself has been. She hopes that her father will find a new wife soon because she senses that with a new "mother" around, they will all be happier. Interestingly, Celie's having to act like a mother to Nettie at this time is ironic because of the fact that both girls are so close in age — and yet Celie has already had two children, but both babies have been taken from her; she has never had a chance to be a "real," loving, nurturing mother — except to Nettie.

We see from this letter that Celie still has an incredibly strong faith in God, and selfless as ever, Celie vows to use his help to protect not herself, but to protect Nettie. Celie's selflessness and her lack of lasting bitterness are proof that she is, and will remain, a strong Christian woman. In summary, note again that Celie is not sad about the fate of her second child; as Walker emphasizes, Celie feels glad that her baby is far away from the evil Fonso. Now Celie has only Nettie to worry about. Not herself, but Nettie. And Celie promises Nettie in this letter to God that she will "take care of you . . . with God help."