Letter 43

Synopsis of Letter 43

Three years have passed and Sofia has been transferred from working in the prison laundry to work as a full-time prisoner-maid for the mayor’s wife, Miss Millie. Although physically recovered, Sofia still broods on revenge against all white people.

When Celie visits, the Mayor’s six year old son, Billy, tries to kick Sofia, injuring his foot in the process. When Miss Millie tries to blame Sofia for the injury, the youngest child, Eleanor Jane, defends her, though Sofia is not appreciative. However, Celie makes her laugh for the first time in three years.

Commentary on Letter 43 

It is ironic that Sofia gets out of prison only to endure another prison sentence as a white woman's maid (the offer she had originally refused). Instead of bringing up her own family, she is made to watch over Miss Millie's children. Sofia and Miss Millie can only have an unequal relationship, the antithesis of that which she has with Celie, Shug, Mary Agnes and her sisters. Despite this, Miss Millie is obviously afraid of Sofia. The depth of Sofia’s antagonism to whites is shown by her contempt even for the one who tries to help her.

Investigating Letter 43

  • Begin a fresh character sheet on Miss Millie
    • Why do you think she is afraid of Sofia?
  • Add to your character study of Sofia.
    • Why does she think constantly about killing someone?
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