Sick, Shug seeks refuge in Mr.__’s house. At first, she’s mean to Celie. Jealous, she tells Celie that she’s ugly and treats her badly. But eventually, Celie’s sweet spirit wins her over. She writes a song for Celie, a song she says Celie "scratched out" of her head.
When Shug thinks it’s time to go, Celie tells her that Mr.__ beats her when Shug isn’t there. Why? Because she’s not Shug. Stricken, Shug says she’ll stay around until Albert promises not to beat Celie.
Shug leaves and makes big money as a singer. When she returns, she has a husband, Grady.
Shug and Celie fall in love. Shug may be sexy and experienced, but she admits she doesn’t know much about sex with women. She must figure it out, though, because at long last, Celie is no longer a virgin.
With Celie, Shug discovers the letters from Nettie that Mr.__ has been hiding from her.
Shug tells Celie she should start wearing pants. They make a pair from some stiff army material. Celie loves them.
When she leaves for Tennessee, Shug takes Celie with her. She encourages her to start her own pants company and Celie does.
When Celie goes home to make her house ready for Nettie, Shug falls in love with a 19-year-old man. She goes off traveling with her young man and visits her children.
Eventually, Shug comes back. She’s still Celie’s but Celie knows she doesn’t have Shug’s full heart. It’s OK, though, because they’re like family now.