18-21) DEAR GOD, Harpo went and brought Sofia and the baby home


Harpo went and brought Sofia and the baby home. They got married in Sofia sister house. Sister's husband stand up with Harpo. Other sister sneak way from home to stand up with Sofia. Another sister come to hold the baby. Say he cry right through the service, his mama stop everything to nurse him. Finish saying I do with a big ole nursing boy in her arms. 

Harpo fix up the little creek house for him and his family. Mr. daddy used it for a shed. But it sound. Got windows now, a porch, back door. Plus it cool and green down by the creek. 

He ast me to make some curtains and I make some out of flower sack. It not big, but it homey. Got a bed, a dresser, a looking glass, and some chairs. Cookstove for cooking and heating, too. Harpo daddy give him wages for working now. He say Harpo wasn't working hard like he should. Maybe 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 don't. He come to the field, pull two ears of corn, let the birds and weevil eat two hundred. Us don't make nothing much this year. 

But now Sofia coming, he always busy. He chop, he hammer, he plow. He sing and whistle. 

Sofia look half her size. But she still a big strong girl. Arms got muscle. Legs, too. She swing that baby about like it nothing. She got a little pot on her now and give you the feeling she all there. Solid. Like if she sit down on something, it be mash. She tell Harpo, Hold the baby, while she come back in the house with me to git some thread. She making some sheets. He take the baby, give it a kiss, chuck it under the chin. Grin, look up on the porch at his daddy. 

Mr. blow smoke, look down at him, and say. Yeah, I see now she going to switch the traces on you.


Harpo want to know what to do to make Sofia mind. He sit out on the porch with Mr. . He say, I tell her one thing, she do another. Never do what I say. Always backtalk. 

To tell the truth, he sound a little proud of this to me. 

Mr. don't say nothing. Blow smoke. 

I tell her she can't be all the time going to visit her sister. Us married now, I tell her. Your place is here with the children. She say. I'll take the children with me. I say. Your place is with me. She say. You want to come? She keep primping in front of the glass, getting the children ready at the same time. 

You ever hit her? Mr. ast. 

Harpo look down at his hands. Naw suh, he say low, embarrass. 

Well how you spect to make her mind? 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. 

He puff on his pipe. 

Sofia think too much of herself anyway, he say. She need to be taken down a peg. 

I like Sofia, but she don't act like me at all. If she talking when Harpo and Mr. come in the room, she keep right on. 

If they ast her where something at, she say she don't know. Keep talking. 

I think bout this when Harpo ast me what he ought to do to her to make her mind. I don't mention how happy he is now. 

How three years pass and he still whistle and sing. I think bout how every time I jump when Mr. call me, she look surprise. And like she pity me. 

Beat her. I say. 

Next time us see Harpo his face a mess of bruises. His lip cut. One of his eyes shut like a fist. He walk stiff and say his teef ache. 

I say. What happen to you, Harpo? 

He say. Oh, me and that mule. She fractious, you know. She went crazy in the field the other day. By time I got her to head for 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 shet 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 say. 

But he keep trying.


Just when I was bout to call out that I was coming in the yard, I hear something crash. It come from inside the house, so I run up on the porch. The two children be making mud pies on the edge of the creek, they don't even look up. 

I open the door cautious, thinking bout robbers and murderers. Horsethieves and hants. But it Harpo and Sofia. They fighting like two mens. Every piece of furniture they got is turned over. Every plate look like it broke. The looking glass hang crooked, the curtains torn. The bed look like the stuffing pulled out. They don't notice. They fight. He try to slap her. What he do that for? She reach down and grab a piece of stove wood and whack him cross the eyes. He punch her in the stomach, she double over groaning but come up with both hands lock right under his privates. He roll on the floor. He grab her dress tail and pull. She stand there in her slip. She never blink a eye. He jump up to put a hammer lock under her chin, she throw him over her back. He fall bam up gainst the stove. 

I don't know how long this been going on. I don't know when they spect to conclude. I ease on back out, wave to the children by the creek, walk back on up home. 

Saturday morning early, us hear the wagon. Harpo, Sofia, the two babies be going off for the week-end, to visit Sofia sister. 


For over a month I have trouble sleeping. I stay up late as I can before Mr. start 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 git a few hours sleep. Then just when it look like it ought to be gitting good, I wakes up. 

At first I'd git up quick and drink some milk. Then I'd think bout counting fence post. Then I'd think bout reading the Bible. What it is? I ast myself. 

A little voice say. Something you done wrong. Somebody spirit you sin against. Maybe. 

Way late one night it come to me. Sofia. I sin against Sofia spirit. 

I pray she don't find out, but she do. 

Harpo told. 

The minute she hear it she come marching up the path, toting a sack. Little cut all blue and red under her eye. 

She say. Just want you to know I looked to you for help. 

Ain't I been helpful? I ast. 

She open up her sack. Here your curtains, she say. Here your thread. Here a dollar fur letting me use 'em. 

They yourn, 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 you say it for? she ast. 

She standing there looking me straight in the eye. She look tired and her jaws 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 say. 

Fight. I say. 

She stand there a long time, like what I said took the wind out her jaws. She mad before, sad now. 

She say. 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 loves Harpo, she say. 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 say. 

I stop the little trembling that started when I saw her coming. I'm so shame of myself, I say. And the Lord he done whip me little bit too. 

The Lord don't like ugly, she say. 

And he ain't stuck on pretty. 

This open the way for our talk to turn another way. 

I say. You feels sorry for me, don't you? 

She think a minute. Yes ma'am, she say slow, I do. 

I think I know how come, but I ast her anyhow. 

She say. To tell the truth, you remind me of my mama. She under my daddy thumb. Naw, she under my daddy foot. Anything he say, goes. She never say nothing back. She never stand up for herself. Try to make a little half stand sometime for the children but that always backfire. More she stand up for us, the harder time he give her. He hate children and he hate where they come from. Tho from all the children he got, you'd never know it. 

I never know nothing bout her family. I thought, looking at her, nobody in her family could be scared. 

How many he got? I ast. 

Twelve. She say. 

Whew, I say. My daddy got six by my mama before she die, I say. He got four more by the wife he got now. I don't mention the two he got by me. 

How many girls? she ast. 

Five, I say. How bout in your family? 

Six boys, six girls. All the girls big and strong like me. Boys big and strong too, but all the girls stick together. Two brothers stick with us too, sometime. Us git 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 you do when you git mad? she ast. 

I think. I can't even remember the last time I felt mad, I say. I used to git mad at my mammy cause she put a lot of work on me. Then I see how sick she is. Couldn't stay mad at her. Couldn't be mad at my daddy cause he my daddy. Bible say. Honor father and mother no matter what. Then after 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, sometime Mr. git on me pretty hard. I have to talk to Old Maker. But he my husband. I shrug my shoulders. 

This life soon be over, I say. Heaven last all ways. 

You ought to bash Mr. head open, she say. 

Think bout heaven later. 

Not much funny to me. That funny. I laugh. She laugh. Then us both laugh so hard us flop down on the step. 

Let's make quilt pieces out of these messed up curtains, she say. And I run git my pattern book. 

I sleeps like a baby now.