Summary and Analysis
This letter emphasizes the fact that Celie is powerless to refuse to marry any man whom Fonso chooses as her husband. And Fonso is ready to get rid of her. Celie offers herself to Fonso, instead of Nettie, so that he can have sex while his new wife is sick. Fonso, of course, uses Celie and then he arrogantly says in Celie's presence that she is a "bad influence on my other girls." He says that Celie "ain't fresh" (isn't a virgin) and that she is "spoiled. Twice" (that is, Celie has had two children). Motherhood is a dirty word in Fonso's mouth; he has no feeling for Celie's (and other women's) sensitivity.
To Fonso, Nettie has replaced Celie in the home. To him, Celie is nothing more than an aging beast of burden that must be disposed of because "the master" is now tired of it. Fonso's comments underscore this; he "praises" Celie to Mr. ________, but note how he does it. Celie, he says, "work like a man." He also tells Mr. ________ that Celie can't bear children anymore and, therefore, Mr. ________ can use Celie sexually any way he wants to and Celie won't "make you feed it or clothe it." What he is saying is this: Mr. ________ can rape Celie any time and any way he pleases and he doesn't have to worry about Celie getting pregnant. Fonso even offers to include a cow in the bargain if Mr. _______ will marry Celie. Later, when Mr. _______ decides to come for Celie, it seems as though it was the cow that made the difference.
Because Fonso has nothing positive to say about Celie, she very naturally turns her thoughts to a woman who is a beautiful woman. Celie studies the picture of Shug Avery. The image and personality of Shug have extended by now beyond the photograph and have so permeated Celie's imagination that she can even hear Shug's voice. Shug "seems" to say to Celie, "Yeah, it bees that way sometime," uttering a folk axiom that expresses a universal truth that "whatever is, is." But there is no cynicism or bitterness in the statement; there is simply Celie's stoic country knowledge that while Shug lives in a magical world, Celie herself must accept her poor, meager condition. Ironically, however, it will be Shug who will prove to Celie that life need not always be hopeless.