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The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

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Letters 42–44 Summary

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Last Updated on May 1, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 437

It has been half a year since the group attempted to use Squeak in their efforts to release Sofia from prison. Unexpectedly, Mary Agnes begins to perform some of her own compositions, which amazes everyone, as they discover that she possesses a remarkable singing talent. Although Harpo is perplexed by her sudden change in behavior, having been very quiet the previous year, he doesn't raise any objections. As a result of her performances, Mary Agnes gains a lot of popularity.

In the meantime, Sofia has been freed from jail on the condition that she serves as a maid for the mayor and Miss Millie. After working for them for three years, she and Celie are sitting in Miss Millie's yard, watching the mayor's children play ball. Sofia expresses her anger and questions why they haven't killed all the white people yet. Celie responds by saying that there are too many of them to do so.

During a conversation between Sofia and Celie, Billy, the mayor's six-year-old son, commands Sofia to fetch a ball for him. Sofia pays no attention to him, causing him to run towards her to kick her leg. In the process, he misses and cuts his foot on a rusty nail. Miss Millie rushes outside to investigate, despite her fear of Sofia. Eleanor Jane, the younger daughter, promptly comes to Sofia's defense. Celie observes that the young girl harbors obvious affection for Sofia, even though Sofia does not seem to care about it.

Sofia recounted to Celie another incident involving Miss Millie. The mayor gifted Millie a new car, but since Millie didn't know how to drive, she requested Sofia's help to learn. Eventually, Millie became a proficient driver and was very thankful to Sofia for teaching her. Millie then proposed to take Sofia to visit her children, whom she had not seen in five years. Although Sofia agreed, Millie insisted that she sit in the back seat while Millie drove her to Odessa and Jack's house. This was because Millie was apprehensive about how it would appear if she allowed a Black woman to sit next to her.

Upon their arrival, Millie became stuck due to her inability to operate the car in reverse, prompting Sofia to provide instruction on how to back up. However, after a prolonged period of time, the engine failed. Millie declined to be driven home by Jack without Sofia's presence, so Sofia was obliged to accompany them. Sofia's time with her family was cut short to just fifteen minutes, causing her to reflect on the incident and remark to Celie that "white people are a wonder of trouble."

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Letters 37–41 Summary


Letters 45–48 Summary