Novels: The color purple: Alice Walker: Chapter 1

I am fourteen years old. I am I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me. Last spring after little Lucious come I heard them fussing. He was pulling on her arm. She says It too soon, Fonso, I ain’t well. Finally, he leaves her alone. A week go by, he pulling on her arm again. She says Naw, I ain’t gonna. Can’t you see I’m already half-dead, an all of these children. She went to visit her sister's doctor in Macon. Left me to see after the others. He never had a kind word to say to me. Just say You gonna do what your mammy wouldn’t. First, he put his thing up against my hip and sort of wiggle it around.

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Then he grab hold my titties. Then he pushes his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He starts to choke me, saying You better shut up and get used to it. But I don’t never git used to it. And now I feel sick every time I am the one to cook. My mama, she fusses at me and looks at me. She is happy, cause he is good to her now. But too sick to last long.

 

My mama dead. She dies screaming and cussing. She screams at me. She cusses at me. I’m big. I can’t move fast enough. By the time I git back from the well, the water is warm. By the time I git the tray ready the food be cold. By the time I git all the children ready for school it is dinner time. He doesn’t say anything. He sat there by the bed holding her hand and crying, talking bout don’t leave me, don’t go. She asked me bout the first one Whose it is? I say God’s. I don’t know any other man or what else to say. When I start to hurt and then my stomach starts moving and then that little baby come out my pussy chewing on it fist you could have knocked me over with a feather. Don’t nobody come to see us.

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 She got sicker and sicker. Finally, she asked Where it is? I say God took it. He took it. He took it while I was sleeping. Kilt it out there in the woods. Kill this one too, if he can.

He acts like he can’t stand me no more. Say I’m evil and always up to no good. He took my other little baby, a boy this time. But I don’t think he kilts it. I think he sold it to a man and his wife over Monticello.

 

I got breasts full of milk running down myself. He says Why don’t you look decent? Put on something. But what I’m sposed to put on? I don’t have anything. I keep hoping he find somebody to marry. I see him looking at my little sister. She scared. But I say I’ll take care of you. With God's help.

He comes home with a girl from around Gray. She is my age but they married. He is on her all the time. She walks around like she doesn’t know what hit her. I think she thought she loves him. But he got so many of us. All needing something. My little sister Nettie is got a boyfriend in the same shape almost as Pa. His wife died.

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She was kilt by her boyfriend coming home from church. He got only three children though. He has seen Nettie in church and now every Sunday evening here come to Mr. _____. I tell Nettie to keep at her books. It is more than a notion taking care of children ain’t even your. And look what happens to Ma.

 

He beat me today cause he says I winked at a boy in church. I may have got something in my eye but I didn’t wink. I don’t even look at men. That’s the truth. I look at women, tho, cause I’m not scared of them. Maybe cause my mama to cuss me you think I kept mad at her. But I ain’t. I felt sorry for mama. Trying to believe his story kilt her. Sometimes he still is looking at Nettie, but I always git in his light. Now I tell her to marry Mr. _____. I don’t tell her why. I say Marry him, Nettie, and try to have one good year out of your life. After that, I know she is big. But for me, never again. A girl at church says you git big if you bleed every month. I don’t bleed anymore.

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Mr. _____ finally, come right out and ast for Nettie's hand in marriage. But He won’t let her go. He says she is too young, has no experience. Say Mr. _____ got too many children already. Plus What about the scandal his wife causes when somebody kills her? And what about all this stuff he hears bout Shug Avery? What bout that? I asked our new mammy bout, Shug Avery. What it is? I asked. She doesn’t know but she says she gon find out.

 

 She does more than that. She git a picture. The first one of a real person I have ever seen. She says Mr. _____ was taking something out of his billfold to show Pa and it fell out and slid under the table. Shug Avery was a woman. The most beautiful woman I ever saw. She is more pretty than my mama. She is bout ten thousand times prettier than me. I see her there in furs. Her face rouge. Her hair is like something tail. She grinning with her foot up on somebody's motorcar. Her eyes are serious tho. Sad some. I asked her to give me the picture. All night long I stare at it. And now when I dream, I dream of Shug Avery. She is dress to kill, whirling and laughing.

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I asked him to take me instead of Nettie while our new mammy is sick. But he just asked me what I’m talking bout it. I tell him I can fix myself up for him. I duck into my room and come out wearing horsehair, feathers, and a pair of our new mammy high heel shoes. He beat me for dressing trampy but he does it to me anyway.

 

Mr. _____ come that evening. I’m in the bed crying. Nettie finally sees the light of day, clear. Our new mammy sees it too. She is in her room crying. Nettie tends to first one, then the other. She was so scared she goes outdoors and vomit. But not out front where the two men are. Mr. _____ says, Well Sir, I sure hope you do change your mind. He says, Naw, Can’t say I am. Mr. _____ say, Well, you know, my poor little ones sure could use a mother. Well, He says, real slow, I can’t let you have Nettie. She is too young. Don’t know anything but what you tell her. Side, I want her to get some more schooling. Make a schoolteacher out of her. But I can let you have Celie.

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She the oldest anyway. She ought to marry first. She ain’t fresh tho, but I spect you know that. She spoiled. Twice. But you don’t need a fresh woman no how. I got a fresh one in there myself and she was sick all the time. He spits, over the railing. The children git on her nerve, she not much of a cook. And she is big already.

 

Mr. _____ he doesn’t say anything. I stop crying I’m so surprised. She is ugly. He says. But she ain’t no stranger to hard work. And she clean. And God done fixed her. You can do everything just like you want to and she ain’t gonna make you feed it or clothe it. Mr. _____ still doesn’t say anything. I take out the picture of Shug Avery. I look into her eyes. Her eyes say Yeah, it bees that way sometimes. Fact is, he said, I got to get rid of her. She is too old to be living here at home. And she a bad influence on my other girls. She’d come with her own linen. She can take that cow she raises down there back of the crib. But Nettie you flat out can’t have. Not now. Not never.

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Mr. _____ finally, speak. Clearing his throat. I ain’t never really look at that one, he says. Well, next time you come you can look at her. She is ugly. Don’t even look like she kin to Nettie. But she’ll make the better wife. She ain’t smart either, and I’ll just be fair, you have to watch her, or she’ll give away everything you own. But she can work like a man. Mr. _____ says How old she is? He says, She near twenty. And another thing—She tells lies.

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