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