Letter 37

Synopsis of Letter 37

Celie advises Squeak to make Harpo call her by her real name, Mary Agnes, so that he takes her seriously, given that she undertakes sole wifely responsibilities now that Sofia is imprisoned.

Celie relays what happened to lead to Sofia’s imprisonment (her refusal of employment was deemed rude and led to physical aggression and arrest). Albert persuades the sheriff to allow Celie to visit Sofia in prison, who is appalled at Sofia’s injuries, which she tends.

Commentary on Letter 37

This letter marks a turning point in the plot and begins the focus on Sofia’s sufferings as a victim of injustice and racial prejudice. It is ironic that the patronising offer of employment was made because Sofia and her children looked clean, attractive and self-sufficient. 

What is most clearly stressed here is the unfairness of the way in which Sofia is treated and her helplessness against the ruling white majority. Six policeman deal with the incident, holding Buster at gunpoint and the mayor shows no consideration or respect for Sofia or her family. She is so badly beaten that Celie is surprised she is still alive when she visits her in prison.

Investigating Letter 37

  • On a new sheet of A4, begin to make notes about the relationships between white people and black people
  • Add to your page of character notes on Sofia
  • What is the significance of the meeting between Albert and the sheriff?
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