The Color Purple Letters 64–69: Summary and Analysis
by Alice Walker

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Letters 64–69: Summary and Analysis

New Character:
Daisy: Alphonso’s new wife

Five years have passed between letters as Nettie picks up her narrative. Tashi’s father died in the rainy season the year before, and Catherine, Tashi’s mother, insists that her daughter continue to learn. As the years go by, Tashi becomes a wonderful storyteller and cries when she hears about slavery, which is something the other villagers refuse to acknowledge. Other women begin to send their daughters to school as well, which is reluctantly accepted by the men.

Corrine tells Nettie not to come to their hut if Samuel is alone. Nettie complains that “since Corrine almost never visits me herself I will hardly have anybody to talk to, just in friendship.” Corrine thinks that the other villagers “get the wrong idea,” even though it seems that most of the villagers are preoccupied with the road that is finally being built near the Olinka village.

As the road approaches the village, the people of the Olinka tribe are happy that there will finally be an easy way to get to the coast. Nettie talks of an exciting celebration and barbecue that will take place as soon as the road gets to the town. The next letter, however, is written a year later, and Nettie picks up the story with the disturbing news that the road was designed to go through the village rather than to the village. When the chief of the Olinka tribe travels to the coast, he discovers many more displaced Africans and learns that the entire area has been bought by a British rubber company. The tribe now must pay a tax for their own water and rent for their own village. Even though the tribe laughs at first, it becomes clear that it is not a joke.

Corrine falls ill with African fever, and as she becomes sicker and sicker, her jealousy and hatred of Nettie grows. She believes that Nettie is the mother of Adam and Olivia, and that she had them with Samuel in America. Nettie and Samuel swear on a Bible that this is not true, but Corrine is not convinced. Samuel then confides to Nettie that the reason he took her in was because he also thought that she was the mother of Adam and Olivia. Upon hearing this, Nettie asks Samuel to tell her how they found the children.

Samuel tells her the following story. The children were brought to him by an old friend, a “scamp,” who claims that these were the last children of his wife. He had married his wife when she was weak from the shock of the lynching of her first husband. She had two children from this first husband, Celie and Nettie. When Samuel first saw Nettie, however, she looked so much like the children that Samuel figured his friend was lying and actually had the children with her. Nettie realizes that his old friend is Alphonso, the man Celie and Nettie thought was their father, and that their actual father died before they knew him.

Celie, after reading this letter, is shocked. She learns that her “pa is not pa” and that all the other things she had thought about herself are not true. She tells God “you must be sleep” and Shug tells her to come to Memphis with her and Grady.

Celie feels the need to meet her “father” again, however, and she travels with Shug to see him. She finds out that he has a new wife and even more children. She tells him about Nettie and what she knows, but he doesn’t really care. He tells her that her real father “didn’t know how to git along” with whites, which is why he was lynched. He can tell that Shug knows about what he did to Celie but really doesn’t care. Celie wants to know where her parents are buried, but Alphonso replies that it was an unmarked grave. With no tombstone to mark her parents, Celie is kissed by Shug, who tells her that “us each other’s peoples now.”

In this section of the novel, the stability of Nettie’s and Celie’s lives is destroyed by events beyond their control. The destruction of the Olinka village is followed by the rift in Corrine’s and Nettie’s friendship. Progress and the...

(The entire section is 1,378 words.)