V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta

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Valerie’s Letter Symbol Analysis

Valerie’s Letter Symbol Icon

When Evey Hammond is confined to a prison cell and tortured every day, her only comfort is the letter she finds in her cell. This letter was written by a woman named Valerie—a lesbian actress who was arrested by the Norsefire government, sent to the Larkhill concentration camp, and killed. Valerie encourages all those who read her letter to maintain their integrity. As she puts it, integrity isn’t more than “an inch,” but as long as humans protect this inch, they are free. Inspired by Valerie’s words, Evey refuses to give in to her torturers. Valerie’s letter symbolizes the power of words themselves—a power so great that the Norsefire government censors literature extensively.

Valerie’s Letter Quotes in V for Vendetta

The V for Vendetta quotes below all refer to the symbol of Valerie’s Letter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vertigo edition of V for Vendetta published in 2005.
Book 2, Chapter 11 Quotes

But it was my integrity that was important. Is that so selfish? It sells for so little, but it’s all we have left in this place. It is the very last inch of us, but within that inch we are free.

Related Characters: Valerie (speaker)
Related Symbols: Valerie’s Letter
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

Halfway through the graphic novel, Evey is arrested and imprisoned. In prison, she's tortured and ordered to sign a confession stating that V kidnapped her and sexually abused her. Although Evey is tempted to lie and sign the statement (effectively clearing herself of any danger), she's inspired to hold out after finding a letter written by a woman named Valerie. In the letter, Valerie talks about being confined to a prison cell and refusing to cooperate with her captors.

Valerie refuses to give in because she doesn't want to sacrifice her integrity and personal freedom. By cooperating with people she despises, Valerie would be sacrificing her principles for the sake of "mere" survival. Even if she did survive prison, Valerie decides, she wouldn't be able to respect herself any more--she'd spend the rest of her life thinking of herself as a frightened animal, more interested in life for life's sake than in freedom, justice, or truth.

Valerie's letter also makes a surprising suggestion: human beings can obtain freedom by refusing to cooperate with torturers, even in the moment when they are literally being imprisoned and tortured. As long as a human being has control over her dignity and self-respect, she'll never be completely broken. A torturer could mangle Valerie's body and hurt her horribly, but she would still be a proud, dignified human being, with at least that last "inch" of freedom.

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Book 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

“Sign that statement. You could be out inside three years. Perhaps they’d find you a job with the Finger. A lot of your sort get work with the Finger.”
“Thank you… but I’d rather die behind the chemical sheds.”
“Then there’s nothing left to threaten with, is there? You are free.”

Related Characters: V (speaker), Evey Hammond (speaker)
Related Symbols: Valerie’s Letter
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, a "guard" orders Evey to sign a statement saying that V kidnapped and raped her--in other words, saying that Evey is innocent of all crimes, and V is guilty. By signing, Evey would be condemning V to execution (if the government could catch him) and saving herself.

Inspired by Valerie's letter, Evey makes the difficult decision to refuse to sign the statement. She would be ensuring her own survival, but she'd also be betraying her friend. Evey is effectively saying that she values her dignity--her honesty, her loyalty to V, etc.--more highly than her life.

Surprisingly, the guard who's been torturing Evey then tells her that she is "free." As Evey is about to discover, her imprisonment has been an elaborate test of her strength and integrity, a test that she's passed. Evey has found the elusive "freedom" that Valerie mentioned in her letter. By refusing to sacrifice her principles, Evey has freed herself of all fear of her guards. There is, quite literally, nothing to threaten her with anymore--because she's not afraid for her life anymore, she's "above" all control.

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Valerie’s Letter Symbol Timeline in V for Vendetta

The timeline below shows where the symbol Valerie’s Letter appears in V for Vendetta. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 2, Chapter 11: Valerie
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Bigotry Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Evey reads Valerie’s letter. Valerie begins by explaining that she was born in Nottingham in 1957. Growing up, she... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Bigotry Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Evey continues reading Valerie’s letter. In London, Valerie became an acclaimed actress, starring in The Salt Flats. There, Valerie befriended... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Bigotry Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
...inch of her, “except one.” Evey weeps as she reads these words, and kisses Valerie’s letter. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 12: The Verdict
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Back in her cell, Evey reads Valerie’s letter one more time. The guard comes to take her to her death. The guard suggests... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 14: Vignettes
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...V tells Evey that he didn’t do anything—she set herself free. Evey shows V Valerie’s letter, and notes that he put an extraordinary amount of work into making it convincing. V... (full context)