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

The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

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Letters 86–87 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 563

According to Nettie's writing, Tashi and her mother have fled to join the mbeles, which has caused Nettie to feel distressed. However, there is no further action that Nettie or her family can take in Africa. The remaining members of the tribe are suffering from diseases like malaria, and the lack of the staple food yams, which were once abundant in the area, has contributed to the tribe's decline.

The family has made the decision to go back to America with the intention of Nettie finding Celie. Nettie is surprised to learn that it has been three decades since their last meeting and she is concerned that her time living with Mr.____ may have altered her personality or essence. While concluding her letter, Nettie receives news that Adam has departed from the village, possibly to look for Tashi.

Celie, in the meantime, continues to write letters to Nettie because she believes her sister is still alive. Shug has been traveling with Germaine around the country for longer than the six months she initially requested. While on her travels, Shug has met one of her children in Arizona and is currently spending time with them. However, her other children have refused to see her. Shug now writes to Celie once a week since being reunited with her family, and Celie has come to accept the fact that she loves Shug. Celie is hopeful that Shug will one day return, and she is even willing to welcome both Shug and Germaine with open arms, even if it means trying to overcome any obstacles that may arise.

After Shug's departure, Celie begins to spend more time with Sofia and Harpo, despite Henrietta's ongoing illness. However, Sofia becomes increasingly annoyed with Eleanor Jane's frequent visits, as she brings her new baby along with her. Eventually, Sofia expresses her frustration to Eleanor Jane, telling her that she is tired of the baby's disruptions and Eleanor Jane's constant presence. This causes Eleanor Jane to become emotional, as she believed that Sofia was her friend, unaware that Sofia only spent time with her because she was forced to under the threat of imprisonment.

Despite spending more time with Mr. ____, Celie surprisingly finds that she cannot muster hatred towards him, perhaps due to their shared love for Shug. Mr.____ takes advantage of this by inquiring about Celie's childhood and past experiences, which he had neglected to do during their marriage. He is surprised to learn about the assault she endured at the hands of her stepfather and acknowledges that he used to physically abuse her because she was not Shug. Nevertheless, he expresses sympathy for Celie due to Shug's departure and recalls his own feelings of sadness when Shug left him.

Celie and Mr.____ are like two aged individuals who are still together even though their love has almost completely faded away. They are chatting under the night sky, like friends. Celie talks to Mr.____ about her business of making pants and explains that the unique aspect of her pants is that they can be worn by anyone. Mr.____ initially thinks that only men can wear pants, but then he recollects that he was once interested in sewing. Celie gives him a needle and thread and requests him to assist her in stitching a pocket. Celie realizes that Mr.____ is not Shug, but he is becoming someone she can confide in.

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Letters 82–85 Summary


Letters 88–90 Summary