Several years after Celie marries Mr. ______, Harpo becomes enamored with Sofia Butler, a confident, healthy young woman. When she becomes pregnant by Harpo, the two marry against the wishes of Harpo’s father. Unlike other marriages in The Color Purple, namely Celie’s, Harpo and Sofia’s marriage is one of genuine love. However, their relationship quickly deteriorates when Harpo begins to beat Sofia in an attempt to teach her to obey his will. His attempts are unsuccessful; Sofia is a large, strong woman, and she fights back. Her indomitable spirit becomes her main characterization, and she refuses to take abuse from anyone. Although her unyielding nature eventually lands her in jail and then in service to a white family, Sofia continues to embody strength and independence throughout the novel. Her circumstances aren’t easy—in fact, they’re unimaginably tragic—but Sofia remains true to her own mind and identity.

Sofia’s character exposes the many ways in which women, particularly Black women, who attempt to take control of their own lives are beaten down by society. There was a chance for Harpo and Sofia to have a happy marriage, but Harpo’s endless obsession with dominating his wife emotionally exhausts her and destroys her sexual interest in him. Sofia begins a new and fulfilling chapter in her life, living with her sister and taking a less controlling lover, but this happiness too is destroyed by racist violence. Just like Celie’s father, who dared to succeed in business, was lynched, Sofia, who dared to refuse the demands of a white couple, is beaten and imprisoned. She loses over a decade of her life to servitude, and her relationship with her young children is forever lost. The world of The Color Purple, which reflects the reality of the first half of the 20th century, is incredibly cruel to Black women. Black women must constantly contend with the emotional trauma and physical dangers that both misogyny and racism present. Sofia is targeted in an especially egregious way for her rebellions against this oppressive social order. But her strength and resolve make her an inspirational force for the other women of the novel, like Celie, who learns from both Sofia and Shug how to assert her independence against Mr. ______.