Letter 25

Synopsis of Letter 25

As Shug begins to recover, Celie tries to persuade her to eat, but Shug prefers to drink coffee and smoke a cigarette while she looks through a fashion magazine. Celie observes the pictures of white women dancing on motor cars and jumping into fountains – ‘society’ women enjoying themselves. Shug seems to be puzzled by the pictures, looking like a child who is trying to work out something important. Celie’s interest in Shug is intensely physical and she longs to reach out and touch her.

Celie is pleased when she manages to entice Shug to eat, as is Albert – they are able to laugh together. Albert confesses he’d been afraid that Shug might not survive.

Commentary on Letter 25

Caring for Shug when she is ill shows Celie as a kind and practical woman. Albert’s children are difficult and Celie does not love them, but they are well fed and clean and she does her best to do her duty as a stepmother.

Celie is shrewd and ingenious in getting Shug to eat, but her care for Shug goes much further - she feels physically aroused and so the incident is also an erotic experience for her.

Albert’s reaction when Shug begins to eat again indicates a subtle power shift - he is revealed as sensitive, while Celie is gradually becoming more assertive and self-confident.

Investigating Letter 25

  • Many of the novel’s characters take notice of the lightness or darkness of the skin of others. What do these degrees of darkness symbolise to them?
    • Make a list of incidents where this is evident.
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