Letter 24

Letter 24

Synopsis of Letter 24

The relationship between Celie and Shug begins to develop as Celie becomes more involved in nursing Shug. She gives her a bath and for the first time sees Shug’s naked body. Celie’s delight makes her feel as though she has turned into a man.

Shug is at first hostile, overawing Celie, but the two women begin to exchange information about their children. Shug tells Celie that her children live with their grandmother (Shug’s mother) and that she does not miss them.

Commentary on Letter 24

Although Shug and Albert have been intimate for years, it is surprising to note that he is uncomfortable about bathing Shug when she is ill.

Celie’s response to the sight of Shug’s naked body is described both spiritually and erotically. Although her hands tremble and she becomes breathless, she feels that she is engaged in an act of worship or prayer. Shug responds by teasing Celie, putting her hand on her hip and fluttering her eyelashes while she is being washed. Walker stresses the intimacy of the scene which is a prelude to the later love affair which develops between the two women.

Investigating Letter 24

  • Why do you think Albert is squeamish about bathing Shug?
  • What is the significance of the way in which Shug teases Celie in this episode?
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