The Color Purple

The Color Purple

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The Color Purple Letter 57 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Nettie and the Reverend's family next sail from New York to England, where they meet with more missionaries and further prepare for their work in Africa. Nettie sees some of the pottery and other artifacts, in British museums, that have been taken from Africa, and is astounded by the quality of the workmanship, and by the culture she learns more about once overseas.
It is ironic that Nettie's first exposure to the artistic production of Africans comes in this colonial institution that has taken the art from Africans and collected it here. At the same time, Nettie is still furthering her understanding of the immense culture and skill of the Africans in Africa—of black people in general.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Nettie also learns that some of her brethren in Africa sold her ancestors to white slave-traders, thus causing her family, and many African American families, to be taken to the American South. Nettie is shaken by this knowledge, which complicates her vision of African culture, and of the village she is to serve.
Nettie's understanding of the world grows more complicated too, as she learns that both blacks and whites were complicit in the slave trade. She is used to seeing herself and her people as the victim of slavery—and certainly they were—but it is strange to see other blacks who were profiting from it.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon