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Free Study Guide-The Color Purple by Alice Walker-Free Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 51

Summary

Celie realizes that Albert is keeping Nettie's letters in a locked trunk where he stores his private items. Shug is able to sneak the key from Albert, and the two women open the trunk together. Inside they find some of Shug's underwear, nude photos, tobacco, and Nettie's letters, some of them opened. They steam open the envelopes in order to take all the letters out. They then replace the envelopes in the trunk so Albert will not realize the contents are missing. After Shug puts the letters in order, she and Celie sit in Shug's room and read them.

Notes

Celie realizes that Albert is hiding Nettie's letters in a locked trunk, which becomes a symbol of the knowledge that men attempt to hide from women. It is also symbolic of the fact that Celie has been locked out of Albert's life. Appropriately, it is Shug who steals the key to the trunk from Albert and opens it for Celie. Now Shug has opened the door of communication for Celie with herself and with her sister. It is also important to realize that reading, a skill taught to Celie by Nettie, now becomes the conduit for their re-connection with each other.


CHAPTER 52

Summary

The first letter from Nettie explains what happened after Nettie left Celie behind at Albert's farm. Albert tried to rape Nettie, but she injured him enough to get away. He promised that he would never allow Celie to hear from her sister again as punishment for Nettie having hurt him. With no family other than Celie, Nettie followed her sister's advice and called upon the reverend. When the minister's door is opened to her, Nettie is surprised to see a little girl standing there with eyes and a face just like Celie's.

Notes

This is the second in a series of letters from Nettie that will act as a counter-narrative to Celie's story of suffering and injustice. Nettie's voice will reveal a powerful and positive experience as she comes to terms with being an African American. In this letter, she tells how it all begins. Following Celie's advice, Nettie has gone to the minister to seek help. The door is opened to her, and she discovers that Celie's daughter is living inside.

Nettie's letters will enlarge Celie's world. Never traveling outside of the provincial South, Celie will learn for the first time about a foreign place as her sister tells of her experiences in Africa.

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