Class Discussion on Chapters 57-81 of The Color Purple
The Color Purple Unit
By ReBecca Hostler
Students should be able to analyze and interpret the information they have read thus far, and
express these observations and conclusions verbally in a large group setting. They also should
synthesize what they have recently learned from the North by South presentations into their
discussions about the characters in the novel.
Students will analyze the novel in an informal group discussion.
Students will be able to:
• Read of the text of The Color Purple closely.
• Analyze The Color Purple in the broader context of the history of slavery and the Jim
One class period.
• The Color Purple novel
• Discussion questions (below)
• Discussion grading rubric
• Reading logs
• Notebook with activities and notes leading up to this discussion
Arrange the classroom so that the seating is appropriate for a large-group discussion with
possible room for students to break out into smaller groups and then reconvene in the large group
at your discretion. Students should have completed their reading and reading logs through
Chapter 47 and have the novel and their logs with them for reference during the discussion.
You will facilitate learning by allowing students to express themselves verbally in a structured
atmosphere. Students who are strong verbal learners should be able to better comprehend
information visually introduced to them through reading. By discussing the issues and even
disagreeing on their conclusions, students will better understand and become more familiar with
the novel's content, as well as the historical information and influences of the time.
• Ask for opening comments, questions, etc. about the book.
• Then, move the discussion from there. You may use the list of suggested questions at
various levels, but you should also feel free to add to these at your discretion based on
your students' backgrounds, interests, and levels.
Although you may want to create your own discussion rubric, you can use or alter the sample one
that follows. This rubric bases 50% of the grade being on behavior and 50% on content. You also
may comment on and/or grade students' reading logs, which they should turn into you after the
This lesson was written by ReBecca Hostler, a teacher at Centennial High School in Roswell,
Questions for Discussion Three (Chapters 57-81)
The Color Purple Unit
Please answer the following questions. Note, too, that chapter references are given after each
question in parentheses if the chapter is not included in the question.
1. How did Nettie get to Africa? Where did they stop along the way? Describe her voyage.
2. How does Nettie characterize the people of Africa? What do you think about this? (57)
3. What did Nettie think of Senegal and its people? (58)
4. What did she think of Monrovia? Why did the presidential palace of Monrovia resemble
the White House? (58)
5. What is Celie's reaction to Nettie's letters? How does Shug reason with Celie? (59)
6. How does Shug distract Celie from her grief and give her something productive to do?
What do you do when something is bothering you? How do you keep your mind off it?
7. Why does Celie worry about her children's intelligence? Is this a rational fear? (61)
8. How were Nettie and the other missionaries welcomed to the village? What can you
discern about the culture of the Olinka's from this passage? (61)
9. Why do you think the Olinka's believed that girls should not be educated? Why didn't
whites in the South think African Americans should be educated? How are these reasons
10. What did the Olinka think about American women? Was that an accurate view at the
time? What does this say about the condition of Olinka women? (63)
11. Why doesn't Nettie like the Olinka's attitude toward slavery? Why did Nettie want them to
take some responsibility for the slave trade? Elaborate. (64)
12. Why was an English rubber factory building a road in Africa? From what international
policy did this result? (65)
13. Describe the conversation between Coreen and Nettie in Chapter 66. What does Coreen
suspect? Why would she think this? How did her suspicions affect her behavior?
14. What did Samuel tell Nettie about her family? How does this change the lives of Nettie
and Celie? (67)
15. Why does Celie say that God "must be sleep?" What does she mean? (68)
16. What does Nettie mean when she says that "the hurt we cause others unknowingly ... is a
terrible thing?" Give examples from the book of how someone caused pain to someone
else unknowingly. How have you seen this in your own life? (70)
17. What situation was rectified before Coreen died? (71)
18. Why has Celie stopped writing to God? How could the events of her life have caused her
to lose her faith in God? (73)
19. What does Shug think about God? Religion? Are God and religion the same thing?
20. What does Celie think about God? (73)
21. What is discussed during the family dinner at Odessa's house? (74)
22. Mr. _________ tells Celie, "You black, you poor, you ugly, you a woman. Goddam, he
say, you nothing at all." Is Mr. _________ right? Why or why not? (75)
23. How was Shug's dream house similar to Nettie's house in Africa? Why would the author
make the two women in Celie's life similar? What are other similarities? (76)
24. How does Shug help Celie find something productive to do? What is the result? (77)
25. When Celie left Mr. _________ she cursed him. How did her curse come to fruition? (79)
26. What did "Jared Hunt" tell Nettie and Samuel about her treatment by Africans? (80)
27. Why did she choose to live in Africa? (80)
28. What does Alice Walker relate about Spelman Seminary (now Spelman College) in the
book? Why would she include this information? (80)
29. Why is Adam so upset? What has changed when they return to the village? (81)