Letter 9

Synopsis of Letter 9

Celie is married to Mr_ and on her wedding night, she is attacked by his eldest son (Harpo) who throws a stone at her which cuts her head. Harpo resents his father’s second marriage, especially since his murdered mother died in Harpo’s arms.

Celie learns that Mr_ in fact has four, not three children, all of whom have been neglected since their mother’s death. Celie tries to look after them, detangling the girls’ hair and attempting to cook for the family and to clean the house.

Later when she is in bed with Mr_, she worries about Nettie and how to keep her safe. When Mr is on top of her, Celie thinks about him making love to Shug Avery and the thought of them together makes Celie put her arm around Mr_.

Commentary on Letter 9

As early as her wedding day, it is clear that Celie’s new home is no better than her old one. The brutal behaviour of Mr_ is reinforced by the image of Celie’s bandaged head on her loveless wedding night. Mr_ did not intervene to punish the behaviour of his eldest son, but merely told the boy to stop what he was doing.

When Celie puts her arm around her new husband in bed, it is not because she feels a sexual attraction to Mr_ but because the thought of him making love to Shug Avery gives rise to a feeling of tenderness. Celie is not responding to her husband, but to the image of Shug making love.

Investigating Letter 9

  • List all the details in this letter that increase Celie’s hardship
    • What does her response to each tell us about her character?
    • Add these notes to your spidergram on Celie
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