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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Sofia tells Celie that the white people for whom she works are backward and inept. The mayor bought Miz Millie a new car, for he did not want a Black having something his wife did not have; but he refused to teach her to drive it. Finally, Miz Millie asked Sofia to teach her how to drive. Now in addition to caring for the children and doing the housework, Sofia must give Miz Millie driving lessons.
One day Miz Millie tells Sofia she will drive her to see her children. When they arrive at the house where her children are staying, the mayor's wife tells Sofia she has until five o'clock with them. Fifteen minutes later, however, Sofia sees that Miz Millie is still out front. She goes to see what is wrong and finds out Miz Millie does not know how to shift into reverse and back up. In the process of trying, she has ruined the gearbox. Now Sofia has to interrupt her visit with her children to take Miz Millie to a mechanic, for she refuses to go with Sofia's brother-in-law, a Black stranger. By the time Sofia returns after the car is fixed, it is already five o'clock, and they must leave. There is no time for a visit.
This very painful chapter reveals the frustration level in Sofia's life. She is forced to care for a weak, unintelligent woman who acts like a tyrant. On the day that Miz Millie is finally doing something nice for Sofia, driving her to see her children, she ruins the gearbox on her car and demands that Sofia take her to the mechanic. After the car is fixed, Sophia has no time to visit with her children, whom she misses greatly. This is the first of several times that automobiles are mentioned in the book. They are used as a symbol of financial progress and independence. Both Shug and Buster own one.
These letters which feature news of Sofia are important to the development of the plot. Celie sees the price that Sofia has been made to pay for her independent spirit, which fights against the patriarchal and white supremacist philosophies. If Celie is to stand up for herself, she knows there will be a price to pay.
Celie and Albert are excited that Shug is coming back for a visit. She has written ahead to let them know she is bringing a surprise. Albert thinks she has bought him a car. Celie and Albert are both surprised and disappointed to find that Shug arrives with a husband, whom she introduces as Grady. Sidling up to Celie, she claims that they are "two married ladies now."
Shug's marriage is a surprise. Totally independent, she seemed to have been beyond the need for a husband. Since both of them love her, Celie and Albert are disappointed about her surprise. Shug's appearance makes Celie aware of herself again since the focus of her recent letters has been on Sofia.
Albert stays home and drinks throughout Christmas with Grady. Shug and Celie pass the time talking. Shug says she met Grady when he helped fix her car. She also explains how she has been singing around the country, making a lot of money, and meeting famous people.
Celie tells Shug how sad Albert is about her marriage, but she does not mention her own grief. Shug says that she was not interested in Albert after seeing how cruelly he treated Celie. She inquires whether he has stopped hitting her. Celie says he has for the most part. Shug says if she were Celie's husband, "I'd cover you up with kisses stead of licks, and work hard for you too." Shug asks if they have better sex. Celie says they try, but it does not work for her.
While the men are involved in drinking, the women talk, mainly about sex. Celie says that Albert has stopped beating her. She admits, however, that she still does not enjoy sex with him, even though he is trying harder. Although she is not sexually satisfied, it is important that Celie can now discriminate between what is lovemaking and what is forced sex. It is important to note that there has been a positive change in both Celie and Albert, largely brought about by Shug's influence.