Celie reads another of Nettie's letters. Nettie has been working hard in the village, from early in the morning till late at night, helping with every aspect of life there, and with Samuel and Corrine's missionary labors. Nettie enjoys the work, but finds it utterly exhausting.
Nettie begins her missionary post with a great deal of idealism. Although the work taxes her physically and mentally, she, at the very least, has been allowed to come to Africa as a free and independent woman, in command of her own future.
Catherine, a woman in the village, has a daughter named Tashi, who enjoys playing with Olivia. Catherine says Tashi does not need to be educated, since her only job will be to act as a good wife to a man one day. Nettie disputes this, and says she herself is not married. Catherine counters that, for this reason, Nettie does not matter very much, since she has no husband and no family.
Immediately, however, Nettie is confronted with the Olinka's view of Nettie's unmarried life. Catherine thus perfectly recapitulates a feeling that Nettie and Celie had when living in America: that women can only matter if they are mothers, taking care of households, children, and their husbands.
But Olivia is very smart, and she learns a great deal in school, even teaching some to Tashi when they are playing. Corrine tells Nettie, later, that, to avoid confusion, Nettie should make clear to the villagers that she is not married to Samuel, and that Corrine is. Nettie is slighted and upset by this, but she nevertheless agrees. Nettie does not understand why, all of a sudden, Corrine seems to treat her with the greatest circumspection.
Corrine's jealousy is here made plain. It is hard for Corrine to imagine that Nettie would be willing to move to Africa without somehow having designs on her husband. The Olinka, interestingly, also believe, at first, that Samuel has two wives, as is permitted in their culture.
Nettie then describes her small hut, and says that she wishes she had a picture of Celie to put in it, next to her picture of Jesus Christ.
Although the move is not subtle, Walker appears to equate Nettie's powerful religious feelings with her devotion to her sister, so many thousands of miles away. She puts the connections and love between family on the same level as connection with and love for God.