Letter 28

Synopsis of Letter 28

As Sofia and Celie work on a quilt, Sofia reveals that she is worried about Harpo because he seems to be obsessed with food. He enjoys cooking and housekeeping much more than Sofia, who would rather be out in the fields or looking after the livestock.

Sofia asks Celie to check on Harpo next time he visits. She notices that Harpo is putting on weight around his middle, whilst the rest of him remains quite thin. While Harpo sits on the porch Sofia is mending the roof on their house, wearing an old pair of Harpo’s trousers (signifying the reversal of social norms).

Over ensuing weeks the women tease Harpo that he is starting to look pregnant.

Commentary on Letter 28

The storyline focuses on the relationship between Harpo and Sofia. The role reversal which has been suggested in previous letters is foregrounded more sharply by Alice Walker. Harpo really likes to cook and clean and work in the house, while Sofia prefers to do the kind of work men would normally do on the land; chopping wood, mending the roof or working in the fields. There is an implication that Harpo might be worried about his masculine image and the ways in which his life is different from that of Albert. It is therefore ironic that, despite seeming worried about this, the fat Harpo puts on results in jokes about him being pregnant (ie. even less ‘masculine’).

Investigating Letter 28

  • In this letter, what do you learn about Sofia’s feelings about Harpo?
    • What is revealed about Celie’s relationship with Sofia?
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