The Color Purple Letters 86–87: Questions and Answers

Alice Walker

Letters 86–87: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Samuel pretty confident that his family will not get malaria, even though there is an epidemic in the village?

2. What sort of church does Nettie and Samuel hope to found in America?

3. Why do the Olinka have “shallow” relationships with the missionaries?

4. Name some of the places that Shug and Germaine visit.

5. What does Eleanor Jane do to Sofia that is more annoying than complaining about her problems?

6. According to Stanley Earl, why do white folks “turn out so well”?

7. How does Sofia feel about little Reynolds Stanley Earl?

8. When did Shug’s parents die?

9. What does Mr.____ mean when he says “If a mule could tell folks how it’s treated, it would”?

10. How do the Olinka interpret the identity of the biblical Adam?

Answers
1. Nettie, Samuel, Adam, and Olivia have all survived bouts with malaria.

2. Nettie wants to start a church “in which each person’s spirit is encouraged to seek God directly.”

3. The Olinka know that eventually the missionaries will leave, making a relationship pointless.

4. Celie receives letters from Shug in New York, California, Arizona, and Panama, where she and Germaine were visiting Grady and Squeak.

5. Eleanor Jane starts to bother Sofia whenever anything good happens, insisting that Sofia say nice things about her husband and son.

6. White folks turn out well because “everybody round here raised by colored.”

7. Sofia doesn’t really care about Eleanor Jane’s baby one way or the other, as long as he could keep quiet more often.

8. Shug’s parents had died nine or ten years ago.

9. Mr.____ is no longer mad that Celie told Shug how he treated her, because the bigger crime was treating her that way in the first place. A work animal would complain about the injustice if it could speak, and Celie was treated like an animal, so it was only natural that she complain.

10. According to Olinka legend, every person that came before Adam was black. But then, women started to give birth to “colorless” babies, for some unknown reason. At first, these babies were killed, but they kept being born. Adam is the first white baby that wasn’t killed.