Letter 15

Synopsis of Letter 15

This is a continuation of the previous letter, written three days later, when Mr_ comes back from seeing Shug, having stayed away from home for the weekend. Mr_ is in a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. Celie has been left at home working in the field, chopping cotton, but she is desperate to ask questions and is still excited to find out everything she can about Shug. Mr_ does not talk to her and cannot settle to any work. Celie thinks he may be sick but in fact he is just as obsessed with Shug Avery as Celie is, and seems to have lost interest in life now that he is back home and apart from her.

Commentary on Letter 15

Celie’s description of the questions running through her mind as being like snakes indicates the depth of her desire to see Shug Avery in the flesh. It is ironic here that Walker illustrates exactly the same effect on Mr_, who is unable to settle to anything, presumably because he is just as obsessed with Shug Avery as his wife is. The similarity in their reactions is actually preparing us for the reconciliation that occurs at the end of the novel. There is no tension or disagreement between Celie and Mr_ at this time, both being held together because of their connection to Shug.

Investigating Letter 15

  • Add some information to Shug Avery’s character sheet
    • Why do you think she has such a strong effect on Mr_ and Celie?
  • How does Mr_’s behaviour here contrast with his previous attitudes to the women in his life?
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