Letter 66

Synopsis of Letter 66

Corrine’s illness has grown more serious and she broods on her adopted children’s physical similarity to Nettie, distancing them from her. She demands that Nettie and Samuel swear on the Bible that they have never had an affair with one another and examines Nettie to prove that she has not born a child. Nettie feels sorry both for Corrine and Olivia and Adam.

The village is due to be planted soon with rubber trees and the Olinka hunting grounds have been destroyed, so that the men have to travel farther to catch food. The women sing and pray that their lives will not be destroyed. Everyone is very unhappy.

Commentary on Letter 66

Another year has passed since Nettie’s last letter but the mood remains sombre. Her happy existence is threatened not only by what is happening to the village but also by Corrine’s suspicion of an affair between Nettie and Samuel. Although the reader sympathises with Nettie, Corrine’s jealousy is understandable given the children’s strong resemblance to their aunt.

For narrative purposes, Corrine’s death, which happens later in the novel, is required so that Nettie can end up with a decent man to marry. Some critics have suggested that Walker’s use of this contrived plot line is somewhat melodramatic.

Investigating Letter 66

  • Can you see a parallel between the way in which the Olinka men and women respond to their situation in Letters 65/66 with the family’s reaction to Sofia’s imprisonment?
  • What can you add to your character notes on Corrine and Nettie?
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