When Harpo attempts to break Sofia's will, he is clearly the bruised loser, and note here how humorously, and yet how all too accurately, he explains that he had a run-in with a mule. Consider Sofia and the theoretical mule. Sofia and a mule are not too different. Both must do fieldwork and both are stubborn. Also, a mule is as much a female as it is a male. And Sofia is as much a woman as she is a man. She is both a mother and a fighter. Year after year, Harpo continues to try and tame Sofia, and yearly, he loses — bruised but stubbornly determined to make his woman a slave to him. Finally, Celie witnesses Harpo's bruises one time too many, and deep guilt festers within her Christian soul; she knows that it was she, along with Mr. ________,who urged Harpo to beat Sofia in the first place. Letter 21, then, is a key letter; it contains one of the most significant scenes in the novel: Sofia
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