ENGL 110 ESSAY ONE: Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
We have discussed literature in general and the novel in particular, along with the meaning of various literary terms. Now that we have read and discussed The Color Purple, you should be ready to analyze such matters as theme and characterization in a work of fiction. Choose one of the following prompts:
Trace Celie’s spiritual development from the protective God she confesses in, to the Old White Man, to the living “It” that is present in all things. How does her view of God change as her sense of her own self-worth changes?
Explore Mr.—‘s character. For what reasons might he treat Celie the way he does? But, by the end of the novel, he’s changed, and Celie is able to call him by his real name, Albert. What makes him change?
Sofia is unjustly imprisoned. How is her experience related to the major theme of injustice, which touches all the main characters in the novel (Sofia, Celie, Shug, Albert, and even Harpo)? What are the consequences of injustice on these characters? Note: You don’t need to discuss all of these characters, but at minimum, discuss two of them in addition to Sofia.
Your essay should be 4-5 double-spaced pages, or approximately 1500 words. Include a Work Cited page. You should rely ONLY on the primary source of The Color Purple to support your claims about the novel. There is no need to use secondary sources.
To Get Started:
For Prompt One, think about how, at the novel’s beginning, Celie has low self-esteem and does not defend herself. She awaits happiness in the afterlife. She hopes for God’s help and protection, yet it never comes until one day she loses faith entirely. Meanwhile, think about how her self-esteem slowly but surely improves over the novel, as she learns to both love herself and others and becomes an independent woman. She regains her faith, but how does her view of God differ?
For Prompt Two, think about why Mr.— is so frustrated. How has his father limited his life? Does he model his behavior after that of his father? What causes him to take responsibility for the suffering he has caused others, and what, precisely, does he say and do that shows how much he has transformed?
For Prompt Three, think about injustice and why it happens. Is there a common cause uniting all the characters? (Hint: Does it have to do with certain people believing they are superior to others, for whatever reason?) Then think about the impact being treated unjustly has on people. Does injustice lead to a never-ending cycle of oppression and suffering, or can the cycle be broken?
Additional Information for This Assignment:
Under Module 7, there is a video that discusses “How to Write a Thesis Statement.” Please view this video before you write your essay. (Hint: I do not want to see something masquerading as a thesis, such as “This paper will explore. . . ” or “The following essay analyzes the . . . .”)
Additionally, the page in this Module that follows this assignment gives some example thesis statements and rough outlines for each of the three prompts. Feel free to borrow this information, BUT use your own words. Your reading of the novel, along with our online discussions, should help you flesh out the outlines with examples from the text.