Letter 63

Synopsis of Letter 63

Tashi’s parents express concern about the effect Olivia’s different cultural expectations have on their daughter. They don’t want their daughter to lose sight of her cultural heritage/traditional female behaviour, despite Nettie’s warnings that change will happen.

Tashi’s father is contemptuous of missionaries who try to change customs they do not understand. He insists that Tashi can no longer visit Olivia, but that Olivia must visit Tashi in her own home, so that Olivia can ‘learn what women are for’.

Nettie recognises a similarity between the attitude of Tashi’s father and Pa. Both speak to women only to issue instructions and expect women to be submissive and not even look into a man’s face.

Commentary on Letter 63

Tashi represents the constraints placed on Olinka (and other) women, and the struggles of young people in a changing world. Although highly intelligent, as a female she is undervalued by her parents and by the tribe. There is irony that Tashi’s father describes Olinka women as ‘respected’ by men, which in reality means ‘restricted’. Nettie also sees herself through Olinka eyes as an insignificant interfering outsider, but is able to laugh ruefully at this.

Tashi and Olivia are similar, both being independent young women who thrive with education. Their mothers also share similarities, Celie’s earlier submissiveness in relation to men being seen in that of Tashi’s mother.

Investigating Letter 63

  • Begin two new character sheets, one headed Tashi, the other Olivia. Add character notes as the narrative progresses on both characters
  • What does this letter add to your comparison sheet on Education and literacy?
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