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

CHAPTER 58

Summary

This letter describes Nettie's emotions when she first sees Africa. She and her fellow travelers all kneel and pray to God, thanking Him for the opportunity to see the home of their ancestors. She then explains that their first stop in Africa is in Senegal, where the people are so "black" that they seem "blueblack." During their next stop in Monrovia, she notices many European people in the city. Corrine tells her that the Dutch own much of the land, which is organized into plantations; many of the people with darker skin do hard labor on the plantations. Also while in Monrovia, Nettie and her adopted family dine with the president and other officials, all dressed in silks and pearls. The president, a light colored African like his cabinet members, talks about the local people, whom he calls "natives." Nettie does not think it is a very positive picture.

Notes

Nettie is amazed when she spies Africa, the home of her ancestors. Like her fellow Black travelers, she gives thanks to God for the opportunity. She is further amazed to find out that even in Africa, a color hierarchy reigns; lighter skinned Africans sit in power while their darker-skinned compatriots are described as "natives" and are made to work in the fields. "Native" has always been a term of denigration used by the colonizer to place the colonized in a position which is less than human. Nettie finds that colonialism results in a stratified society similar to the culture she has left in the South.


CHAPTER 59

Summary

This is another letter to God from Celie. She explains to Him that it takes a long time to read just a few of Nettie's letters, for she and Shug are unfamiliar with many of the words that her sister writes. As they read, Celie finds herself crying, for she misses her sister and she is angry with Albert for having kept the letters from her. Celie and Shug are interrupted when Grady and Albert come home. They carefully put the letters aside.

Celie tells Shug she does not know how she will keep from killing Albert. Shug says she must remember that Nettie will be coming home and will want to see the gentle Celie she knows and loves. If Celie murders Albert, she may never see Nettie again. Celie agrees to hold her anger in, but she asks Shug to sleep with her that night. Shug arranges not to sleep with Albert in order to accommodate Celie.

Notes

Celie's long pent-up anger is now barely contained. The fact that Albert has kept Nettie's letters from her is almost more than she can tolerate. She tells Shug she does not know how she will keep from murdering Albert. Shug warns her of what the consequences would be, including never being able to see Nettie again.

This chapter presents a very different Celie than was seen at the beginning of the novel; she is no longer willing to be submissive and abused. However, she has not lost her intelligence and will keep her anger in check and not do anything rash. In reality, Celie gains power and authority through her anger. She has a new view of her relationship with her husband, and for the first time in the book, she calls Albert by his real name instead of Mr. __ .

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