Letter 27

Synopsis of Letter 27

Albert’s father visits to complain about the presence of Shug Avery in the house. Representing society’s view that she is a disgrace who has a venereal disease, he insults her appearance and lifestyle. In disgust, Celie spits in the water she fetches him and plots worse additives for his water next time he visits.

Albert remains calm, acknowledging that he is the sole father of Shug’s children. Although his father asserts his sympathy for Celie’s position before he leaves, she is on Shug’s side and is surprised to feel close to Albert for enduring his father’s abuse.

Albert’s brother Tobias visits and tries to flirt with Shug, who is unimpressed. Instead she sits with Celie, who introduces her to quilt making, making Celie state for the first time that she feels good about the world.

Commentary on Letter 27 

Albert’s father is another parent who has an unsatisfactory relationship with his children and demonstrates little love. Ironically, children who do have love to offer in the novel, like Celie or Sofia, spend a great deal of time separated from their offspring.

Celie’s sympathy for Albert as his father leaves indicates that their relationship has begun to change.

The second visit by Tobias interrupts a peaceful domestic scene in which Celie is piecing together a quilt that she is making jointly with Sofia. When Shug chooses to join Celie at her sewing and Albert sits close by, the sense of security that Celie feels indicates shared companionship, as well as hostility towards Albert’s father and brother. This sense of security is one of Shug’s most important contributions to Celie’s self-esteem.

Quilt making is often done as a co-operative effort and Walker develops the quilt theme further as the novel progresses.

Investigating Letter 27

  • Fill in some more information on your ‘Religious beliefs and behaviour’ table (refer back to Letter 4 for headings and layout)
  • Make a new table on a fresh sheet of paper where you can note references to ‘Quilts and sewing’ throughout the novel.


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