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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 53

Summary

In the next letter, Nettie tells Celie how much she misses her, thinking of her constantly. She explains that she is living with the minister and his family; the reverend's name is Samuel, his wife is Corrine, the little girl is Olivia, and the little boy is Adam. They treat her well and include her in many activities, mostly church related. Before she closes the letter, Nettie tells Celie how she thinks "about the time you laid yourself down for me."

Notes

In this chapter, a new set of characters is introduced. Nettie confirms that Celie's children, Olivia and Adam, are in the custody of the minister and his wife and are treated well. Celie is living with the four of them and is also treated well, even being included in the family activities. For Nettie, life begins to form a wholeness, for she is delighted to be in a position where she is not abused and where she can help to care for Celie's children. She knows that her positive position in life is due to Celie's sacrifices for her. Nettie is very appreciative and constantly thinks about her sister.

CHAPTER 54

Summary

In the next letter, Nettie writes that she believes Albert is not passing on her letters to Celie. As a result, she is afraid of losing all contact with her older sister. She is also worried because Corrine and Samuel are preparing to go to Africa as missionaries, and Nettie does not know what will happen to her. She will not ask their Pa for help, for she does not want Fonso to know where she is. She asks Samuel to speak to Albert about her situation, but he declines, not wanting to get involved with a man he does not know. Nettie encloses a few stamps so that Celie will write her some letters.


Notes

In this letter, Nettie is filled with worry. She feels like her ties with Celie are being cut off by Albert. She is also worried about what will happen to her when the minister and his wife go to Africa as missionaries. She is fearful that she will again find herself in a life of abuse and oppression.

CHAPTER 55

Summary

The next letter explains that Nettie has gone to Africa with Samuel and Corrine. She wrote to Celie every day on the ship, but she tore her letters up, thinking Albert would never pass them on. She acknowledges the fact that Celie writes letters to God, feeling too ashamed to speak directly with Him. Celie's faithfulness in writing letters serves as an example for Nettie to continue writing to Celie, even if she does not receive them. She admits that writing to Celie makes her feel less lonely.

Nettie was allowed to go to Africa because one of the missionaries backed out of the trip at the last minute; therefore, there was an extra ticket for her. Nettie told Samuel she wanted to learn to be a real missionary, someone they would be proud to call a friend. In the letter, she tells Celie how she is learning about the history of the Africans. She is thankful Miss Beasley kept alive her thirst for learning.

Nettie also explains how she saw the mayor's wife in town one day with a maid and found out from Samuel about Sofia's predicament. She also tells Celie she wants to tell Samuel and Corrine that Olivia and Adam are her sister's children, but she is no sure how to do it. She closing by telling Celie how wonderful it is that she is there "to lavish all the love I feel for you on" the children.

Notes

Nettie reveals in this letter where her narrative intersects with the time line of the Sofia/Harpo narrative. She was still in town when Sofia was imprisoned and then released to work for the mayor's wife. This connection also reveals the irony of how physically close Nettie was to Celie, yet how distant and different their lives have been.

Nettie provides an insight into Celie's strength of character in spite of her lack of self-confidence. Despite all her hardships and difficulties, Celie has kept her faith and written letters to God. Nettie knows Celie writes letters because she does not feel worthy to talk to God directly. Nettie, who is in a much more privileged position than her sister, still takes strength from Celie's perseverance. She continues to write Celie letters to give her sister encouragement, hoping one of them may get through to her. Nettie also finds that the letter writing makes her feel less lonely.

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