Letter 3

Synopsis of Letter 3

Some months have passed and Celie’s second child has been born and again taken away by Alphonso. Celie does not think the new-born boy (Adam) has been killed, but that Alphonso has sold it to a childless couple who live in a nearby town.

Alphonso tells Celie that he thinks she is indecent because her breast milk is running down her body. He tells her to dress properly but she has no decent clothes to wear.

Celie wishes Alphonso would find another woman to marry because he has started to look lustfully at Celie’s younger sister, Nettie, who is afraid of him. Celie states that she will do her best, with God’s help, to take care of her sister.

Commentary on Letter 3

Alphonso’s comments about Celie’s appearance, his description of her as evil and his accusation that her behaviour is unacceptable, are all indications of the contemptuous way in which many of the male characters in the novel behave towards women. The fact that he begins to look at Nettie as a prospective replacement sexual partner emphasises his contempt for women and his perception of them merely as a means of satisfying his sexual desire.

The southern American dialect omits ‘s’ on the present tense verbs (acts / says / finds) as well as contractions (she’s) and possessive apostrophe plus ‘s’ (God’s).

Investigating Letter 3

  • What does Alphonso’s attention to Nettie tell us about him?
  • On a blank piece of A4 start a spidergram about the character of Alphonso, adding in other deductions about his character, with evidence to support each deduction. (Keep this for future notes.)
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