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The Color Purple | Section 9, Letters 64–69 | Summary

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Summary

Letters 64–67: Nettie to Celie

In Africa, Nettie and Corrine's bonds unravel. Because Olivia and Adam resemble Nettie so much, Corrine thinks she is their mother and her husband Samuel is their father. She makes Nettie swear on the Bible that her suspicion is not the truth. Nettie does and says, "You've never known me to lie, Corrine ... Please believe I am not lying now." Nonetheless, Corrine restricts Nettie's relationship with Samuel. When Samuel apologizes for his wife's insult, Nettie is shocked to learn he also thought the children were hers, and that was why he gave her a home. He then tells Nettie her father was lynched, which lead her mother to lose her mind, and that Alphonso is her and Celie's stepfather, not their biological father.

In the wake of Tashi's father's death, Tashi's mother, Catherine, supports the education of her daughter. Other villagers begin to follow this example.

However, life in the African village is also crumbling by Letter 65. A British rubber manufacturer now owns much of the jungle and is destroying the vegetation, church, school, and huts, as well as displacing the animals by building a road to the coast.

Corrine becomes ill with a fever, and Nettie must care for her in addition to her other tasks.

Letter 68: Celie to God

Celie's sense of reality is shaken by the revelation of her family history, and Shug promises to take Celie to Tennessee.

Letter 69: Celie to Nettie

When Celie finds out her family history is based on lies, she and Shug decide to visit Alphonso. They are surprised to find he lives in a beautiful home surrounded by well-kept flower gardens. He also has a maid. Alphonso is married to Daisy, a 15-year-old whose parents work for him. When Celie tells him she found out the truth he says, "Well ... So now you know." When they leave the cemetery after failing to find Celie's parents' graves, Shug kisses her and says, "Us each other's people now."

Analysis

Olivia and Tashi are troubled to find out social realities do not always match their childhood perceptions. When she relates an Uncle Remus tale to Tashi (these were created by a white author, Joel Chandler Harris, but based on folklore and spiritual beliefs from the slaves imported from Africa), Olivia is upset to learn her story is based on a true one passed down by the African girl's slave ancestors. Tashi is saddened to hear how her grandmother was treated in the United States after she had been sold to the slave traders.

After Tashi's father dies from malaria, she is devastated to realize that although she lived her life to please her father, she never would have attained his full acceptance because she was a girl. Her mother Catherine achieves the tribe's acceptance of "an honorary man" because she has birthed five sons.

Celie, too, learns painful truths about betrayal, although racial rather than historical or gender-based, as well. Not only was her biological father lynched because his store was more prosperous than a white counterpart's, but also Alphonso became wealthy from his dealings with the white townspeople: "As soon as they got out of slavery," he said about their black ancestors, "they didn't want to give the white man nothing else." However, when he started his own farm, he promised the white seed seller a percentage of his profits. This practice enabled him to reopen Celie's father's store.

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