Mostly black and white illustration of nine letters, one of them has been opened

The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

Start Free Trial

Letters 61-63 Summary

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Celie's state of mind improves somewhat after learning that Nettie is alive, but she remains concerned about the welfare of her children. Shug had informed her that children conceived through incestuous relationships are often mentally challenged.

Following a challenging and lengthy voyage, the missionaries reach the Olinka community. The Olinkas express astonishment upon discovering that the new missionaries are of African descent and that two women are among them. The villagers question Samuel about the identity of the mother of the children, wondering if it is either Corrine or Nettie, and further inquire whether he has two wives.

Once Samuel has shared information about himself and his family, the missionaries are asked to attend a unique event as guests. The main highlight of the ceremony is a performance that features a dance and narrative honoring the roof-leaf, a dense vegetation that is plentiful in the village and blankets every dwelling.

In the legend that Nettie hears, the village chief becomes greedy and begins to hoard the village's crops and wives. There always seemed to be enough food for everyone because there was a constant surplus of harvests. Nevertheless, to their dismay, there was no more roof leaf to cover their buildings after the storm had blown away all of the roofs of the villages. During the wet season, their village nearly disappears. Once the roof-leaf harvest has returned to the village, the people adore the crops and pay homage to them, while the selfish chief is exiled. Nettie is curious about what Celie "will make of all this."

Nettie gets used to her regular routine of teaching the youngsters and adults quickly. Since the Olinka do not believe in educating females, Olivia is the sole student in these classes. A woman's sole goal in life, according to their ideology, is to "be the mother of [her husband's] children." As the first day of school approaches, Olivia worries about her best friend Tashi and whether or not she will be able to go. Tashi's parents are concerned because she "knows she is learning a way of life she will never live" from her boyfriend. To prevent Tashi from meeting Olivia, they have Nettie intervene.

Nettie expresses her hope that Tashi can exceed the expectations of their tribe, but Tashi's father responds that their community tends to feel sorry for individuals like Nettie, who are rejected and left to fend for themselves in the world. He assures Nettie that Tashi will never have to face such hardship because she will always have a husband or father to take care of her. Nettie is taken aback by the fact that both men and women in the village view her with both pity and disdain.

Over time, Corrine undergoes a transformation and begins to experience jealousy towards Nettie because the tribe recognizes her as Samuel's wife. Initially, Corrine requests that Nettie's children no longer refer to her as "Mama Nettie." Later on, she also asks Nettie to stop borrowing her clothes. Nettie is saddened by Corrine's behavior and inquires about her well-being.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Letters 52–60 Summary


Letters 64–69 Summary