Letter 40

Synopsis of Letter 40

It is planned that Mary Agnes is dressed up like a white woman, and will remind Bubber Hodges that as her uncle, he once gave her some money when she was a little girl. Squeak will then employ reverse psychology stating that prison life suits Sofia, and her incarceration suits Squeak, hoping this will prompt the warden to instead make Sofia a white woman’s maid.

Commentary on Letter 40

The plan that the family and friends devise to help Sofia illustrates the relative positions of black and white people in the American South very clearly. Power lies in the hands of white authority. Although Mary Agnes is dressed up as attractively as possible, she obviously feels inferior and poor. Notice the irony of the little black Bible that Squeak is given to carry, to give the impression that she is a devout Christian woman, as well as the demure hairstyle and the formal hat.

Investigating Letter 40

  • What does Buster the prize-fighter mean when he says the plan sounds like ‘Uncle Tomming’ to him?
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