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Teaching Point of View in "The Color Purple": High School English Lesson

written by: Sarah Degnan Moje • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 2/4/2014

"The Color Purple" is written in the first person, through the perspective of Celie. Have your students try re-writing sections of the novel through a different character's perspective. How does the novel change? This lesson is for mature students in 11th or 12th grade.

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    Exploring Point of View

    Alice Walker’s novel allows teachers the freedom to have students read and write in the 1st person point of view, which is not usually used in analytical and argumentative writing on the high school level.

    This freedom, in turn, allows teachers to tailor writing assignments so students can fully see and appreciate how the perspective of a story can change, depending on who is telling the story. The letter writing format of the novel allows students to have the freedom to select passages to re-write from an alternative point of view, and the diary like aspect of Celie’s letters also invites some personal reflective writing assignments as well.

    The Assignment

    Work with your students on changing the point of view within the novel. Have each student choose a letter of Celie’s that focuses on her interaction with another character. Then, ask students, to re-write the letter from that character’s point of view. How would that character tell the same story? That is the task you are attempting to have students carry out. Do this writing task with at least three major characters within the story and create a diary board in your classroom that tells the novel’s story from these various points of view.

    Then, engage them in some personal reflective writing that reinforces the lesson on point of view. Have each student chose an event from his or her own life. Ask them to write the story of that event, several times, changing the point of view each time. Use the downloadable power point to review point of view with students during this lesson. For a final question, ask them, “How did your personal story change as the point of view changed?

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References

  • Still from the 1985 film "The Color Purple"

"The Color Purple": Lesson Plans for Students in 11th or 12th Grade

"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker is a simple to read, but deals with mature and complex subject matter. This material is appropriate for mature students in 11th or 12th grade or an AP English class.
  1. Who Is Alice Walker? High School English Lesson
  2. Introduction to "The Color Purple": Lesson Plan for 11th or 12th Grade English
  3. "The Color Purple": High School Lesson on Comparing the Book & the Film
  4. Teaching Point of View in "The Color Purple": High School English Lesson