Study Guide

The Color Purple Letter Eighty-Six

By Alice Walker

Letter Eighty-Six

  • Another letter from Nettie: Tashi and her mother ran away to join the mbeles. It’s not clear who or what the mbeles are, but they seem to be a rebel group trying to fight for independence and to keep traditional ways of life.
  • Adam and Olivia are devastated to have lost their friend; no one who has joined the mbeles has ever returned.
  • The new owners of the Olinka village have gotten rid of the yam fields, which was a big mistake. The yams help with resistance to malaria and with controlling chronic blood disease, so now a bunch of villagers are dying of illness.
  • Nettie asks Celie how she is and also says, "Nearly thirty years have passed without a word between us."
  • Nettie tells Adam and Olivia about Celie, but worries that Celie has been changed over time from Mr.__’s abuse.
  • Nettie comments on God. How her notion of God has dramatically changed over time. She thinks of God in a more spiritual sense now rather than focusing on Christ or other "idols," as she says it.
  • Nettie worries about how Adam and Olivia will handle the transition back to the U.S. They have learned to be intelligent and outspoken, and are not used to the racism that they are certain to experience in America.
  • Adam has gone after Tashi.