A lightweight partner

Like many of the other male characters in the narrative, Grady is weak, being something of a temporary addition to the attractive, strong character of Shug. Physically he is quite unattractive, with large teeth and a tendency to dress in flashy clothes. Shug tells Celie that he is also not particularly good in bed, describing his sexual technique as something that must have been taught to him by a furniture salesman.

Grady is not violent like some of the other men in the novel, but his attitude to females is patronising. Ultimately, the women laugh at the importance he places on them having a good enough reputation to attract a man. Grady himself is driven by lust. He is hypocritical enough to warn Celie that her reputation will be damaged if she leaves Albert, yet soon elopes with Mary Agnes, showing that he is just as unscrupulous as all the other men over the seduction of women.

Celie (and therefore the reader) regards Grady as insignificant and not good enough for Shug, whom he patronises by calling her ‘Mama’. Although he seems to have a real affection for her, it is notable that he also enjoys spending her money and eventually Shug is relieved when he disappears from her life.

Grady is more of a caricature than a fully drawn character and Walker injects an element of humour by having him establish a cannabis farm in Panama, where he makes a great deal of money but spends most of his time smoking the product. Even the more subservient (compared to Shug) Mary Agnes eventually has the determination to leave him and return to Georgia.

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