The Color Purple

The Color Purple

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The Color Purple Letter 58 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In her next letter, Nettie tells of their arrival in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, which is filled with white and black traders speaking French and Senegalese, and with "some of the blackest people" Nettie has ever seen. Nettie observes activity in the market in Dakar.
Nettie inadvertently participates in a kind of racial categorization that a white slave trader might also use. Scales of blackness were commonly referenced by white traders when discussing Africans from different parts of the continent.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Their next stop is Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. There, Nettie and the Reverend's family meet the President of Liberia (named Tubman) and a large part of Tubman's cabinet, many of them white people. The social divisions in Monrovia surprise Nettie: many of the workers seem not dissimilar from black farm-workers in the US, and Dutch companies own the farms. Nettie is surprised by the inequality in Monrovia, and she realizes, slowly, that Africa is not a distant utopia, but a land afflicted by many of the same problems as the United States.
Although Nettie arrives in Africa incredibly idealistic about the prospects of her mission there, and her ability to effect change among the Olinka, she begins very quickly to see that life in Africa is far from utopic. Indeed, because political institutions in Africa are not so stable, and are always changing, instances of discrimination and political unfairness are just as likely in Africa as in the Southern United States.
Themes
God and Spirituality Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Men, Women, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Violence and Suffering Theme Icon
Self-Discovery Theme Icon