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Multiple Themes of Race, Abuse, and Friendship
with The Color Purple


In 1982 Walker published The Color Purple. The novel follows the chronological life of several black women during the first half of the twentieth century in Georgia. One woman in particular who is the more prominent of these characters is Celie. Celie struggles with the rape and abusive relationship with her father and husband. The sexism and rape are just two of the underlining themes in the text. As Celie’s admiration and friendship grows with Shug, she begins to discover her own will and independence from those who have hurt her and undermined her strength in the past.

Summary of the Unit
This unit will help students identify the variety of themes within the text and build their own assessment and understanding of the material. They will be able to draw from other resources and class discussion to engage in critical thinking about history and literature and how they relate.
Grade: Upper level 11th-12th grade English class.

Teaching Unit
During this part in the semester, we will be examining variety of themes that have been portrayed throughout our history and the history of literature. Some of these themes include racism, adultery, incest, abuse, sexism and also the importance of family and the sacrifices that families make for one another. Many literary works have depicted these elements, social relationships, and social injustices that are still exposed today. It is important that our student recognize these distinct elements. The main objective is not only to inform students of relationship between characters and the underlining themes within the text; but also to teach them the skills to make their own informed judgments and opinions of literature and how they are still relevant today.

Because of the sexual content and scandalous nature of the themes within the text, this unit addresses upper level English language arts courses. The unit could be modified to meet curriculum standards of some younger high school courses, but to fulfill the deeper context and meaning of the stronger elements and themes within the text, it is best fitted for an 11th or a 12th grade class.

Along with the text, I hope to incorporate other literary elements as well as some visual comparisons. It is important that students understand the historical relationship between these characters. As a class we would briefly explore African American history at the turn of the century. An article I would have the students read for discussion is from the history channel.com titled “The Civil Rights Movement.” The article is a collaboration of a variety of authors and historians, and explores the popular movements and events that had transpired during the late fifties into the sixties. Even though Walker’s The Color Purple is based earlier than the events that had taken place, I feel that it is important that my students understand the change and progression that the civil rights movements had for all African Americans. One of the most fundamental qualities about Celie, is her personal growth over oppression and abuse. I think this is a very vital relationship that I want my students to be able connect with. Her personal struggle and triumphs were ahead of its time. The fact that she was a woman to have overcome these hardships speaks volumes even still today. These are all facets of life many women still endure today.

My other plan is to incorporate a variety of historical picture references so that as a class, the students will be able to interpret visual material and incorporate what they have gathered from the readings and discussion to draw their own conclusions and feelings about the characters. My final media interpretation is the movie adaptation of The Color Purple. The movie is critically acclaimed and an award winning movie that encompasses the books many themes. I think it is important that we end the lesson with this movie. It will give students a chance to examine the similarities and differences depicted in the movie and the novel. This movie can open several perspectives and discussion points that can be beneficial in their personal development about reading and literature.

Students will be required to actively participate in classroom discussion as well as daily journal entries about the reading. The idea is that students will be able to build their own understanding and interpretations about the text, characters and the themes that we are discussing. Their daily writing will serve as an important resource when it comes to them compiling their final project
Listed below is a lesson plan I hope to incorporate within the reading. Having this assignment will also give students a break from the reading, giving them a chance to understand the characters in depth. Students will also be required to formulate a final project, where they will examine the themes that were discussed in class. Using the book, movie and the other resources, students will have the chance to compile their findings in a creative assignment and choose how they want to present their materials. If the format is not listed below, students will have to OK their format with me before proceeding.

Lesson Plan

Goal for this assignment:
Students will be able to make connections between Celie's personal growth and the Jim Crow Laws. The purpose to inform students of the struggle that African Americans had to endure, the History of Jim Grow so that they might better understand Celie's challenges not only in her home life, but also as a black women.

Assignment:
Students will be required to research the Jim Crow Laws and the hardships that African Americans had endured during this time. They will then create their own character and write a Journal entry about the life of their character combining their research and what we have discussed during the course of reading the Novel. Character development will help build their creative writing skills as well as their research skills. Rely on fact to compile their own understanding of what life was like for African Americans.

Resources:
-Internet
-Journal articles
-Book Reviews
-Compare other literary works
Students will also be able to draw from their daily writings to study the characters of the reading to the information they have gathered about Jim Crow. Time will be allocated for students to use the resources in the library. Students will also have time in class to compile their research and put together their presentations.

Character Development

Does your character exemplify the challenges that African Americans Endured during Jim

Crow Laws?

Did you explore the characters development from the text and other resources?

___/5 points

Research

Did you reference your sources appropriately?

Did you use more than two other outside resources?

/10points

Presentation

Did you examine/present your characters strengths?

Did you explain your characters weaknesses?

___/15 points

Participation

Did you engage active discussion?

Did you participate in other class discussions?

/10 points
Final Project

For the final project, students will be required to assess one of the themes covered from the reading: racism, sexism, adultery, incest and abuse portrayed in both the readings and the movie. Students will take the information they compiled and present it in a creative form. Students can choose from the following writing/oral presentations:
· Personal Writings
-Journals, autobiographies, monologue ext.
· Imaginative Writings
-Fiction, Fantasy, Poetry ext.
· Popular Forms
-Ads, posters, Satire ext.
· Drama/Oral English
-Discussion, Debate, Creative Drama ext.
· Media Composition
-Video, TV Scripts, Collage, ext.
The Final Project will be graded and assessed accordingly:
Research
Did you cite your sources?
Is your information historically accurate?
Did you use a variety of resources to support your theme/opinion?
/20
Creativity
Did you choose one of the approved presentations?
How original is your presentation?
/10
Personal Reflection

Did you cover your personal reflection about the reading and the theme within your presentation?
_/15
Grammar/Mechanics

Was your presentation organized and free of grammatical errors? Demise
_/5