Letter 38

Synopsis of Letter 38

Sofia is sentenced to twelve years in prison for her assault, with just two half-hour visits per month from friends and family. She has to work in the prison laundry and is kept in filthy conditions.

She models her behaviour on Celie’s submissive attitude, so is not badly treated in prison but regarded as a model prisoner. However, she dreams of murder all the time and her nature has changed considerably. Everyone who knows her band together to support Sofia as best they can.

Commentary on Letter 38

The appalling severity of Sofia’s punishment has reduced Sofia to a subservience which deeply distresses her friends. Sofia’s physical and mental condition are now in sharp contrast with her previous strength and independence. Once a meticulous housekeeper, she is now forced to live in harsh and filthy conditions. Like Celie in earlier times, or Squeak, she must now act submissively in order to survive.

Despite her long sentence, Sofia refuses to be broken, even though she bears the signs of trauma, as Celie did years ago when she was initially abused.

Investigating Letter 38

  • How do you account for the change in Sophie’s personality when she is sentenced to twelve years in jail?
  • In what ways do Sofia’s family and friends show solidarity towards her?
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