Letter 18

Synopsis of Letter 18

Sofia’s baby is born before she and Harpo are married in her sister’s house. There has been no reconciliation between Sofia and her father, but her brother-in-law and two of her sisters attend the wedding. Sofia feeds her child in the middle of the ceremony, showing both her independence and her devotion to the child.

Harpo finds the courage to defy Mr_ and refuses to work on the farm until his father agrees to pay him a wage and to let Harpo have a small shed to fix up as a home for Sofia and the baby.

Sofia is confident and strong and seems to take naturally to being in charge of her home, although Mr_ has some misgivings about exactly who is head of the house.

Commentary on Letter 18

There is frequently an element of comedy in the relationship between Harpo and Sofia and something of a role reversal, with Sofia displaying masculine character traits in comparison to Harpo’s gentler behaviour. Physically they are also different, with Sofia having a more masculine build than her husband and a much more forceful personality. However, initially the couple seem to be happy and well matched.

Investigating Letter 18

  • How does Alice Walker portray strong female characters in the novel?
    • Start a two-column list with Sofia, then her sisters, in the left hand column with a matching characteristic in the right hand column.
    • Add other strong women characters as they appear in the story.
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