Free Study Guide for The Color Purple by Alice Walker Free Book Summary|
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on The Color Purple".
. 09 May 2017