Study Guide

The Color Purple Letter Eighty-Seven

By Alice Walker

Letter Eighty-Seven

  • Celie looks at her body and hates it. Mostly, she’s just worried that she’s not attractive and therefore Shug doesn’t love her.
  • Celie experienced her life’s only happiness with Shug, and now fears she will never be happy again.
  • Shug sends postcards from wherever she and Germaine are visiting.
  • Ironically, Mr.__ is the only one who seems to understand how Celie feels about Shug’s abandonment of her.
  • Celie also tells Mr.__ about how she has two children and that Pa is the father of the children. Mr.__ realizes what a rotten S.O.B. Pa really was.
  • Celie no longer hates Mr.__. Why? Because he loved Shug and Shug loved him. And because he’s trying to be a better person.
  • Sofia and Harpo keep trying to set Celie up on dates, but thankfully Mr.__ saves the day by telling the would-be suitors that Celie is his wife.
  • Eleanor Jane (the mayor’s daughter whom Sofia raised) continues to come over to see Sofia. She brings her husband, Stanley Earl, along, as well as yams disguised as tuna casserole for Henrietta.
  • Eleanor Jane is sweet, but totally clueless to the fact that Sofia lived a very unhappy life with the mayor’s family.
  • Eleanor Jane comes over with her new baby, Reynolds Stanley Earl, eager for Sofia to approve of and fawn over the baby. Which Sofia certainly does not do. Eleanor Jane pushes the issue, and keeps asking Sofia to say that the baby is "sweet" and "smart," but all Sofia will say is that the baby’s "sure fat."
  • Finally, Sofia puts her foot down and says that she does not love baby Reynolds Stanley. Eleanor Jane cries. Sofia says that she feels nothing for the baby, and loving him or not loving him won’t change the way he treats her when he grows up.
  • Sofia insists that any black woman who claims to "love" baby Reynolds Stanley is lying because they’re scared of Eleanor Jane as a white woman.
  • Eleanor Jane doesn’t understand what it was like for Sofia to be basically a slave in her family’s household. But Sofia begins to try to show her.
  • Eleanor Jane is upset because she feels like Sofia is the only person who loves her; her family certainly doesn’t and now her husband is always working
  • At last, Celie hears from Shug. Shug and Germaine looked up Shug’s children, and Shug visited one of her sons. From her grown son, Shug found out that her own parents have been dead for nearly ten years.
  • Celie tells Mr.__ that she loves Shug because Shug has the self-confidence that she always lacked.
  • Mr.__ tells her he was always so jealous of her relationship with Shug. He also recalls how astonished he was when Shug left him. He knows why she left him too: because he was beating Celie. No matter what, Shug always stood up for Celie instead of being mean and jealous of her.
  • Mr.__ wants to hear about Celie’s children and about Africa. She tells them how men in Africa dress—in robes that might as well be dresses. And, apparently the men in Africa sew too, not just women.
  • Mr.__ and Celie chat while she teaches him to sew clothing.
  • Celie explains how the first humans were black and lived in Africa. Adam and Eve were simply the first white people ever.
  • The Olinka have their own interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve. Apparently, the Olinka frequently throw out white Olinka for being different. The see this as being like God throwing Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. The parallel they draw here is that the Olinka word for "white" is "naked." If you recall the Adam and Eve story, when they are tempted by the serpent to eat an apple from a tree that provides wisdom, Adam and Eve realize that they are naked. The Olinka think that their black ancestors probably threw Adam and Eve out of their village.
  • Furthermore, the Olinka have theories on the serpent. In the Biblical story, after being thrown out of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve began to hate snakes and wanted to kill any snake they saw. The Olinka believe that white people think of blacks as the serpent. That’s why they’re so determined to crush black people.
  • Interestingly, the Olinka also worship the snake.
  • Celie is finally appreciating Mr.__’s company.
  • Celie can’t bring herself to believe that Nettie is dead. Celie also continues to receive letters from her sister.