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The color purple Alice Walker. Born February 1944 in Georgia African-American as well as Cherokee, Scottish and Irish lineage The 8 th child of poor sharecroppers. Early Life. In 1952, when she was 8 years old, she got shot in the eye with a BB gun. She lost the sight in her right eye.

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Born February 1944 in Georgia

  • African-American as well as Cherokee, Scottish and Irish lineage
  • The 8th child of poor sharecroppers
early life
Early Life
  • In 1952, when she was 8 years old, she got shot in the eye with a BB gun. She lost the sight in her right eye.
  • Psychologically, she grew more introspective, contending with feelings of sadness, and betrayal.
  • With “three magic gifts” from her mother in hand- a typewriter, a sewing machine, and a suitcase- Walker enrolled at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1961, where she quickly became involved in the civil rights movement. She developed important friendships with the historians Howard Zinn and Staughton Lynd. With the assistance of Lynd, Walker transferred to Sarah Lawrence College in 1964. There, her commitment to becoming a writer was nurtured.
after graduation
After graduation
  • Worked for the NY welfare system and learned about Blacks who were evicted from their homes for attempting to register to vote.
  • Married a lawyer (whom she later divorced)
  • One daughter, Rebecca Grant born in 1969.

Her first book of poems came out in 1968 and her first novel just after her daughter's birth in 1970.

  • Alice Walker's early poems, novels and short stories dealt with themes familiar to readers of her later works: rape, violence, isolation, troubled relationships, multi-generational perspectives, sexism and racism.
type of writing
Type of writing
  • Centered on the struggles and spiritual development affecting the survival as whole on women
  • Portray the struggle of civil rights of African American people throughout history, and are praised for their insightful portraits of black life, in particular the experiences of black women in a sexist and racist society.

Criticized for writing about these struggles. Embattled by racism, many black critics and citizens have denounced her for calling attention to the internalized racism that feeds sexism in black families.

  • However, she believes people can be soul survivors; they can persevere despite hardship and prove the dignity of the human spirit.
her success
Her Success
  • Walker took all of her experiences as a poor black child in a volatile discriminatory southern town and developed on outlet for her voice.
  • She portrays many of her characters based on her own life.
  • She stands for equality of not only races but gender
  • Her writing has helped bring the civil-rights movement into the forefront of society
honors and recognition
Honors and Recognition
  • Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple
  • “Humanists of the Year” American Humanist Assoc.
  • California Hall of Fame
  • O. Henry Award for “Kindred Spirits”
  • Rosenthal Award

“I think we have to own the fears that we have of each other, and then, in some practical way, some daily way, figure out how to see people differently than the way we were brought up to.”

  • Her work has influenced the literary world by her ability to turn life experiences into celebrating the accomplishments of strong black women. Walker characters are typically black women who eventually turn their rage on the men in the story.
historical significance

Walker’s portrayal of a double repression of black women in the American Experience. The author believes that black women suffer from discrimination by the whites and from black males who impose the double standard.

Historical Significance

The story is about an uneducated black woman named Celie in the rural part of southern Georgia in the 1930s. She is close to her sister, Nettie, who is a missionary in Africa and corresponds with her. It is her letters over 20 years that tell her story. The novel itself is formatted as letters addressed first to God and then later to her sister.


At the age of 14, she is abused and raped by her father. She has two children from this abuse which are taken away and she believes have been murdered by her father.

Her abuse continues with her marriage to a man she refers to as Mister.

She tries to protect her sister Nettie from suffering the fate she experienced with their father.

Nettie leaves home and tries to find sanctuary with Celie but it’s not safe with Mister. She convinces her to go to the local Pastor for help. He arranges Nettie to leave for missionary work, and Nettie promises to write all the time.

As time passes, no letters arrive and she believes her sister is dead. But her husband has been keeping the letters from her.

The story unfolds with Celie standing up for herself and fighting for her freedom and dignity.

Poor, uneducated black woman with a sad personal history. She survives a stepfather who rapes her and steals her babies and survives an abusive husband. She builds a strong friendship and intimacy with singer Shug Avery, who helps Celie to find her voice. At the end, Celie is a happy, independent, and self-confident woman.Celie
Celie’s younger sister. Nettie is the only character who loves Celie consistently and unconditionally throughout the novel. Their mutual love for each other remains steady even after the sisters are separated for 30 years without any contact.

Educated and independent of all men.

Nettie never judges her personal worth in relation to men.

shug avery
Shug is larger than life, and she know how to love. She has a weakness for people, and she keeps people in her life, no matter what.

Shug is the person who lifts Celie up and gives her the will to leave behind a life of victimhood and become a new woman.

Shug Avery
other characters mr albert celie s husband harpo mr s oldest son sophia harpo s wife
Other charactersMr. _____ (Albert) – Celie’s husbandHarpo – Mr. ___’s oldest sonSophia – Harpo’s wife


Endurance with an underlying sense of wonder and hope.

Despite the horrendous existence that Celie (protagonist) lives under ( the oppression of poverty, sexism, and racism), she maintains a sense of her own dignity, and when she is given the opportunity, she opens her heart fully to love.


ViolenceBlack female characters in the book tend to be victims of violence. Men tend to attempt to exert their dominance over women, especially their wives. Celie suffers repeated violence from her father and husband and reacts by shutting down emotionally and being submissive.

As an African American, living in the pre-Civil Rights South, surrounded by other poor, uneducated blacks, Celie sees nothing in her race to be proud of. However, as she learns about the rich cultured that existed in Africa, she gains pride in her ethnic heritage.Race
women femininity the power of strong female relationships
Women either have to constantly fight against men, or completely submit and be trampled over. Women’s situations can improve, when women band together and support each other. Women & Femininity/ The Power of Strong Female Relationships
the meaning of the book title
The meaning of the book title?

Shug says that she believes that “it angers God if a person walks by the color of purple in a field without stopping to notice and admire it.”

In this statement, Shug summarizes her religious philosophy; to her, God is not some distant deity living on high, but a genderless, raceless being that wants people to appreciate and enjoy life. It is also significant that she chose the color of purple, for it is the color of royalty; and yet a really deep purple seems almost to be black.


Even though there is nothing wrong with Harpo and Sofia’s marriage, Harpo wants to control his wife. Mr.__ advises Harpo to dominate Sofia the way most men do, by using violence. Celie realizes that bringing violence into a marriage damages it, but she’s jealous that Sofia isn’t beaten and that Harpo can be married three years and "still whistle and sing."

women femininity the power of strong female relationships1
Women & Femininity/ The Power of Strong Female Relationships

Mr.__ and his son see women essentially as servants, or slaves, meant to work while men enjoy life. Though some women try to band together and support each other, many men in this novel try to prevent them from supporting each other.