The Color Purple

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker Rationale by Patrick M. Clarke Grade Level and Audience In her award-winning novel The Color Purple, Alice Walker (1982) tells the story of Celie, a young black girl growing up in the reconstruction South of the United States. In a series of letters to God and to her sister Nettie, Celie tells the story of her life, ranging from the trauma of sexual abuse as a child to her success and wealth as an adult. The themes presented in The Color Purple are very advanced, and the details of Celie's sexual assault are very vivid. The emotional and sexual abuse of Celie continues throughout most of her life, and Celie describes each moment in such a way that the reader feels like he or she is there watching. For this reason, The Color Purple is "suitable for mature high school readers" (Gillespie, p. 122). According to Worthington (1985) "certain people may not be ready for Walker's book" (p. 52). Students in an advanced junior or senior year English class or social studies class doing a unit on the treatment of Black Americans after the Civil War would probably benefit the most from The Color Purple. Also, since the novel contains several references and details that might be considered objectionable, Worthington recommends that teachers should always "allow any reader the opportunity to select another book" (p. 52). (See "Alternative Books.") Plot Summary Fourteen year old Celie has led a very rough life. Her mother is very sick, and when she goes to visit the doctor Celie is left alone with her father, Fonso. While the mother is gone, Fonso rapes Celie. Celie's mother dies soon after and now Fonso rapes Celie more and more often, saying "You gonna do what your mammy wouldn't" (p. 1). Celie has two children by her father, both of which he takes away right after they are born. Celie assumes that he has taken the children into the woods and
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