The color purple: Alice Walker: Chapter 4

The color purple: Alice Walker: Chapter 4
The color purple: Alice Walker: Chapter 4

Harpo went and brought Sofia and the baby home. They got married at Sofia's sister's house. Sister’s husband stands up with Harpo. Another sister sneaks away from home to stand up with Sofia. Another sister comes to hold the baby. Say he cries right through the service, and his mama stops everything to nurse him. Finish saying I do with a big ole nursing boy in her arms. Harpo fixes up the little creek house for him and his family. Mr. _____ daddy used it for a shed. But it sounds. Got windows now, a porch, back door. Plus it is cool and green down by the creek. He asked me to make some curtains and I make some out of a flour sack. It is not big, but it is homey. Got a bed, a dresser, a looking glass, and some chairs. Cookstove for cooking and heating, too. Harpo's daddy gives him wages for working now. He says Harpo wasn’t working hard like he should have. Maybe a little money goose his interest. Harpo told me, Miss Celie, I’m going on strike. On what? I ain’t going to work. And he doesn’t. He comes to the field, pulls two ears of corn, and lets the birds and weevil eat two hundred. We don’t make anything much this year. But now Sofia coming, he is always busy. He chops, he hammer, he plows. He sings and whistles. Sofia looks half her size. But she is still a big strong girl. Arms got muscle. Legs, too. She swings that baby about like it was nothing. She got a little pot on her now and gives you the feeling she is all there. Solid. Like if she sits down on something, it is mash. She tells Harpo, Hold the baby, while she comes back in the house with me to get some thread. She making some sheets. He takes the baby, gives it a kiss, and chucks it under the chin. Grin, look upon the porch at his daddy.

Mr. _____ blows smoke, looks down at him, and says, Yeah, I see now she going to switch the traces on you


Harpo wants to know what to do to make Sofia's mind. He sits out on the porch with Mr. ____. He says I tell her one thing, and she does another. Never do what I say. Always backtalk. To tell the truth, he sounds a little proud of this to me. Mr. _____ doesn’t say anything. Blow smoke. I tell her she can’t be the time going to visit her sister. We married now, I tell her. Your place is here with the children. She says I’ll take the children with me. I say, Your place is with me. She says You want to come? She keeps primping in front of the glass, getting the children ready at the same time. Have you ever hit her? Mr. _____ asked. Harpo looks down at his hands. Naw is such, he says low, embarrassed. Well, how do you spect to make her mind? Wives are like children. You have to let ’em know who got the upper hand. Nothing can do that better than a good sound beating. He puffs on his pipe. Sofia thinks too much of herself anyway, he says. She needs to be taken down a peg. I like Sofia, but she doesn’t act like me at all. If she talks when Harpo and Mr. _____ come into the room, she keeps right on. If they ask her where something is, she says she doesn’t know. Keep talking. I think bout this when Harpo asked me what he ought to do to her to make up her mind. I don’t mention how happy he is now. How three years pass and he still whistles and sings. I think bout how every time I jump when Mr. _____ calls me, she looks surprised. And like she pities me. Beat her. I say. The next time we see Harpo his face is a mess of bruises. His lip cut. One of his eyes shut like a fist. He walks stiffly and says his teeth ache.

The color purple: Alice Walker: Chapter 5

I say, What happens to you, Harpo? He says, Oh, me and that mule. She is fractious, you know. She went crazy in the field the other day. By the time I got her to head home, I was all banged up. Then when I got home, I walked smack dab into the crib door. Hit my eye and scratch my chin. Then when that storm come up last night I shut the window down on my hand. Well, I say, After all that, I don’t spect you had a chance to see if you could make Sofia mind. Nome, he says. But he keeps trying

Just when I was bout to call out that I was coming into the yard, I hear something crash. It comes from inside the house, so I run up to the porch. The two children are making mud pies on the edge of the creek, they don’t even look up. I open the door cautiously, thinking bout robbers and murderers. Horsethieves and hints. But it is Harpo and Sofia. They fight like two men. Every piece of furniture they got is turned over. Every plate looks like it broke. The looking glass hangs crooked, the curtains torn. The bed looks like the stuffing was pulled out. They don’t notice. They fight. He tries to slap her. What did he do that for? She reaches down and grabs a piece of stove wood and whacks him across the eyes. He punches her in the stomach, and she doubles over groaning but comes up with both hands locked right under his privates. He rolls to the floor. He grabs her dress tail and pulls. She stands there in her slip. She never blinks an eye. He jumps up to put a hammerlock under her chin, and she throws him over her back. He falls bam up against the stove. I don’t know how long this has been going on. I don’t know when they spect to conclude. I ease on back out, wave to the children by the creek, and walk back on up home. Saturday morning early, we hear the wagon. Harpo, Sofia, the two babies are going off for the weekend, to visit Sofia's sister.


For over a month I have had trouble sleeping. I stay up late as I can before Mr. _____ starts complaining bout the price of kerosene, then I soak myself in a warm bath with milk and Epsom salts, then sprinkle little witch hazel on my pillow and curtain out all the moonlight. Sometimes I get a few hours of sleep. Then just when it looks like it ought to be getting good, I wake up. At first, I’d get up quick and drink some milk. Then I’d think bout counting fence posts. Then I’d think bout reading the Bible. What it is? I ask myself. A little voice says Something you did wrong. Somebody spirit you sin against. Maybe. Way late one night it comes to me. Sofia. I sin against Sofia's spirit. I pray she doesn’t find out, but she does. Harpo told. The minute she hears it she comes marching up the path, toting a sack. Little cut all blue and red under her eye. She says, Just want you to know I looked to you for help. Ain’t I been helpful? I asked. She opens up her sack. Here your curtains, she says. Here is your thread. Here a dollar fur letting me use ’em. They you're, I say, trying to push them back. I’m glad to help out. Do what I can. You told Harpo to beat me, she said. No, I didn’t, I said. Don’t lie, she said. I didn’t mean it, I said. Then what do you say it for? she asked. She stood there looking me straight in the eye. She looks tired and her jaws are full of air. I say it 'cause I’m a fool, I say. I say it cause I’m jealous of you. I say it cause you do what I can’t. What that? she says. Fight. I say. She stands there a long time like what I said took the wind out of her jaws. She was mad before, but sad now. She says All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my brothers. I had to fight my cousins and my uncles. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men. But I never thought I’d have to fight in my own house. She let out her breath. I love Harpo, she says. God knows I do. But I’ll kill him dead before I let him beat me. Now if you want a dead son-in-law you just keep on advising him like you doing. She put her hand on her hip. I used to hunt game with a bow and arrow, she says. I stop the little trembling that started when I saw her coming. I’m so shame of myself, I say. And the Lord he did whip my little bit too. The Lord doesn’t like ugly, she says. And he ain’t stuck on pretty. This opens the way for our talk to turn another way. I say You feel sorry for me, don’t you? She thinks for a minute. Yes, ma’am, she says slowly, I do. I think I know how come, but I asked her anyhow. She says, To tell the truth, you remind me of my mama. She is under my daddy's thumb. Now, she was under my daddy's foot. Anything he says goes. She says nothing back. She never stands up for herself. Try to make a little half-stand sometime for the children but that always backfires. The more she stands up for us, the harder time he gives her. He hates children and he hates where they come from. Tho from all the children he got, you’d never know it. I never know anything bout her family. I thought, looking at her, nobody in her family could be scared

How many has he got? I asked. Twelve. She says. Whew, I say. My daddy got six by my mama before she dies, I say. He got four more from the wife he got now. I don’t mention the two he got by me. How many girls? she asked. Five, I say. How bout your family? Six boys, six girls. All the girls are big and strong like me. The boys are big and strong too, but all the girls stick together. Two brothers stick with us too, sometimes. We get in a fight, it’s a sight to see. I ain’t never struck a living thing, I say. Oh, when I was at home I tap the little ones on the behind to make ’em behave, but not hard enough to hurt. What do you do when you get mad? she asked. I think. I can’t even remember the last time I felt mad, I say. I used to get mad at my mammy cause she put a lot of work into me. Then I see how sick she is. Couldn’t stay mad at her. Couldn’t be mad at my daddy cause he was my daddy. Bible says, Honor father and mother no matter what. Then a while every time I got mad, or start to feel mad, I got sick. Felt like throwing up. Terrible feeling. Then I start to feel nothing at all. Sofia frown. Nothing at all? Well, sometimes Mr. _____ git on me pretty hard. I have to talk to Old Maker. But he is my husband. I shrug my shoulders. This life soon is over, I say. Heaven lasts all ways. You ought to bash Mr. _____ head open, she says. Think bout heaven later. Not much fun for me. That funny. I laugh. She laughs. Then we both laugh so hard we flop down on the step. Let’s make quilt pieces out of these messed-up curtains, she says. And I run git my pattern book. I sleep like a baby now.

The War of the Worlds: The Cylinder opens: Chapter four

Shug Avery is sick and nobody in this town wants to take Queen Honeybee in. Her mammy says She told her so. Her pappy says, Tramp. A woman at church says she dying— maybe two tuberculosis or some kind of nasty woman's disease. What? I want toast but don’t. The women at church are sometimes nice to me. Sometimes not. They look at me there struggling with Mr. _____ children. Trying to drag ’em to the church, trying to keep ’em quiet after we get there. Some of the same ones used to be here both times I was big. Sometimes they think I don’t notice, they stare at me. Puzzle. I keep my head up, the best I can. I do a right smart for the preacher. Clean the floor and windows, make the wine, and wash the altar linen. Make sure there’s wood for the stove in wintertime.


He calls me Sister Celie. Sister Celie, he says, You faithful as the day is long. Then he talks to the other ladies and the men. I scurry bout, doing this, doing that. Mr. _____ sits back by the door gazing here and there. The women smile in his direction every chance they get. He never looks at me or even notices. Even the preacher got his mouth on Shug Avery, now she is down. He takes her condition for his text. He doesn’t call no name, but he doesn’t have to. Everybody knows what he means. He talks bout a strumpet in short skirts, smoking cigarettes, and drinking gin. Singing for money and taking other women and men. Talk bout slut, hussy, heifer, and streetcleaner. I cut my eyes back at Mr. ____ when he says that. Streetcleaner. Somebody got to stand up for Shug, I think. But he doesn’t say anything. He crosses his legs first to one side, then to the other. He gazes out the window. The same women smile at him, say amen gainst Shug. But once we are home he never stops taking off his clothes. He calls down to Harpo and Sofia's house. Harpo comes running. Hitch up the wagon, he says.

Where is going? say Harpo. Hitch up the wagon, he says again. Harpo hitched up the wagon. They stand there and talk for a few minutes out by the barn. Then Mr. _____ drives off. One good thing bout the way he never does any work around the place, we never miss him when he went. Five days later I look way off up the road and see the wagon coming back. It got sort of a canopy over it now, made out of old blankets or something. My heart begins to beat like fur, and the first thing I try to do is change my dress. But too late for that. By the time I git my head and arm out of the old dress, I see the wagon pull up in the yard. Plus a new dress won’t help none with my snotty head and dusty head rag, my old everyday shoes, and the way I smell. I don’t know what to do, I’m so beside myself. I stand there in the middle of the kitchen. Mind whirling. I feel like Who Would Have Thought. Celie, I hear Mr. _____ call. Harpo. I stick my head and my arm back in my old dress and wipe the sweat and dirt off my face as best I can. I come to the door. Yessir? I asked, and trip over the broom I was sweeping with when I first notice the wagon. Harpo and Sofia are in the yard now, looking inside the wagon. Their faces are grim. Who this? Harpo asked. The woman should have been your mammy, he says. Shug Avery? Harpo asked. He looks up at me. Help me get her in the house, Mr. _____ says. I think my heart gon fly out of my mouth when I see one of her feet come poking out. She not lying down. She climbs down tween Harpo and Mr. ____. And she dresses to kill. She got on a red wool dress and a chestful of black beads. A shiny black hat with what looked like chickenhawk feathers curve downside one cheek, and she carried a little snakeskin bag, to match her shoes.

The War of the Worlds: The heat-ray: Chapter Five

She looks so stylish like the trees all around the house draw themself up tall for a better look. Now I see she stumble, tweens the two men. She doesn’t seem that well acquainted with her feet. Close up I see all this yellow powder caked upon her face. Red rouge. She looks like she ain’t long for this world but is dressed well for the next. But I know better. Come on in, I want to cry. To shout. Come on in. With God's help, Celie going to make you well. But I don’t say anything. It's not my house. Also, I ain’t been told anything. They get halfway up the step, and Mr. _____ looks up at me. Celie, he says. This here Shug Avery. An old friend of the family. Fix up the spare room. Then he looks down at her, holds her in one arm, and holds on to the rail with the other. Harpo on the other side looked sad. Sofia and the children are in the yard, watching. I don’t move at once, 'cause I can’t. I need to see her eyes. I feel like once I see her eyes my feet can let go of the spot where they are stuck. Git moving, he says, sharp. And then she lookup. Under all that powder her face black as Harpo's. She got a long pointed nose and a big fleshy mouth. The lips look like black plum. Eyes big, glossy. Feverish. And mean. Like, sick as she is, if a snake crosses her path, she kills it. She looks me over from head to foot. Then she cackles. Sound like a death rattle. You sure are ugly, she says like she ain’t believed it.

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