The Color Purple
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. How would you describe the relationship between Mr. ______ and his father, and the relationship between Harpo and Mr. ______?
2. What does the way the community reacts to Shug’s illness say about the status of women?
3. Why do the Olinka not identify with Samuel, Corrine, and Nettie on the basis of race?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Describe Celie’s relationship with Shug. How does it change? What is significant about Shug’s last fling, with the young man named Germaine?
2. Consider the seemingly ideal world of family and friends that surrounds Celie at the end of the novel. What are the gender roles in this world like? Do you see any benefits or problems with Walker’s vision?
3. What role do you think Sofia plays in the novel? Describe her character and how she contributes to the themes in the book.
4. How are Celie’s letters to God similar to the African-American slave narratives collected in the 1930s? How are they different?
5. Why does Sofia tell Miss Millie “Hell no” when she offers Sofia a job as her maid? What is offensive about Miss Millie’s behavior prior to Sofia’s response?
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