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The Color Purple: Novel Summary: Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Pages 26-48

Mr. __ is gone for the entire weekend, chasing Shug Avery around town.  Celie doesn’t seem to mind this behavior; in fact, she too wishes she could see Shug.

Harpo, the seventeen-year-old son of Mr. __, meets a girl in church and soon tries to court her.  The girl’s dad objects to his proposal, saying that he has nothing to offer her.  To remedy this situation, the two young lovers decide to make a baby together, therefore linking their families together permanently.  At first Mr. __ is very angry when Harpo brings Sofia (his girlfriend) to the house to live, but eventually Mr. __ gets over it, allowing them to live in a shed on his property.  Soon the baby is born and Harpo and Sofia marry. 

Eventually Harpo realizes that Sofia is not like Celia and the other submissive women in his life.  When Harpo asks his father how to make his wife “mind him,” the old man encourages his son to beat her.  Mr. __ asserts, “Wives is like children.  You have to let ‘em know who got the upper hand.  Nothing can do that better than a good sound beating.”

Unfortunately for Harpo, this is not an easy task: his wife is much bigger than he is and when he tries to hit her, she retaliates, teaching him the lesson of obedience.  Though Celie also told Harpo to beat his wife, she admires Sofia for being such a strong woman.  Celie realizes that she can never be this strong.  But Celie feels profoundly guilty for telling Harpo to beat her and she has constant nightmares about her sin.  Soon Sofia confronts Celie about what she said.  Celie concedes that she didn’t mean what she said, and after a long discussion, the two women become friends. 

The rest of the section is devoted to the arrival of Shug Avery. The woman is very sick and comes to live with Mr. __ and the rest of the family. At first she is very hostile to Celie, calling her ugly, but eventually these two women also become good friends. It's soon revealed that Shug has had three children with Mr. __. As before, this news doesn't bother Celie at all.