Nettie reveals, in her next letter, that she has lived with the Olinka for five years. An English rubber company is slowly building a road to the village, and Olinkans greet the road-builders with food and drink to celebrate this achievement. The Olinkans do not yet distrust the motives of the English company building the road.
The English rubber company's road seems like it will benefit the village, connecting it to the outside world and the opportunities the outside world offers. Yet Nettie has an instinct that the Olinka's lack, sensing that the White men of the rubber company are not acting out of a pure desire to benefit the Olinka.
Nettie feels extremely close to Olivia and Adam, but wonders whether, at this point, they should be sent back to Europe or America to be educated, since they can only be educated in limited fashion among the Olinka. Corrine has grown even more distant from Nettie, asking that Nettie not visit Samuel's hut unless she (Corrine) is present.
Nettie originally saw Africa as a Utopian place for black people. Now she sees it as a place where children cannot get the education they need to thrive in the wider world. Jealousy once again rears its head as an obstacle in relationships between women.
Tashi and Olivia share stories of their cultures, and Nettie encourages Olivia to write down these stories from Tashi, to preserve them. Tashi's father passes away from malaria during the rainy season, having refused all "Western" treatments, and accepting only Olinkan traditional medicine, which does not halt the advance of the disease.
Interestingly, this novel itself represents an attempt to "preserve the stories" of women both in Africa and in the rural South of the United States. Note that Tashi's father had earlier commented that the Missionaries always die, but here he died because of his unwillingness to use Western Medicine. The picture of what is good and what is bad keeps getting muddier and muddier in the novel.
Nettie relates how Olinkan women are friends to one another, in a way she finds mostly inspiring, although the friendship between common wives (to the same man) confuses Samuel, who believes it is not Christian. Olinkan women typically support one another, and give one another advice. They help to raise each other's children. The only hitch in this social system (with many wives for one husband) occurs when a favorite child dies, and wives begin accusing one another of sorcery as an explanation for the child's death.
One might argue that the Olinkan women's relationship to one another are defined by men, since one man can have many wives. But these women use this position to their advantage—they provide for one another, and consider each other to be "sisters." This is in stark contrast to the way Corrine begins to treat Nettie, based on her seeming belief that Nettie has designs on Samuel.