The Color Purple Sample Essay Outlines
by Alice Walker

The Color Purple book cover
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Sample Essay Outlines

Sample Analytical Paper Topics

Topic #1
Follow the development of clothes as symbols in The Color Purple and explain how clothes become symbols of protection.

I. Thesis Statement: In The Color Purple, characters who wish to protect others from harm make clothes for them. Clothes become a symbol of protection because the making of clothes is an act of support from one to another.

II. Early examples of this symbol
A. Celie dresses up to try to protect Nettie from Alphonso
B. Corrine’s dress for Olivia
C. These symbols do not help Celie

III. Those that help Celie
A. Kate’s wish to make a dres
B. Shug
1. Donates a dress for Celie’s quilt
2. Gives Celie the idea for pants

IV. Celie as protector
A. Sews pants for herself
B. For Sofia
C. For Nettie
D. For everyone

Topic #2
Use examples from the text in which the setting is either inside or near a church. Compare scenes with churches to illustrate the theme of God in The Color Purple.

I. Thesis Statement: The church is used as a symbol for God in The Color Purple. Early in the text, violence and injustice occur near churches in order to illustrate the inequity with which women are treated in so-called “God-fearing” towns.

II. Victims of church
A. Annie Julia is killed near a church
B. Celie is slapped after coming home from church

III. The ideal of God
A. Celie’s God (stereotype)
B. Shug’s God

IV. God and church
A. Celie’s God is found in the town church
1. The people of that church have never been kind to Celie
B. God without church
C. God is found in nature

Topic #3
Compare Celie, Sofia, and Squeak as they fight the suppression that follows them throughout their lives.

I. Thesis Statement: How the women deal with oppression in The Color Purple differs, but Celie, Sofia and Squeak all eventually become self-determining women.

II. Squeak
A. The weakest of the three
B. Draws inspiration from other women
1. Celie
2. Shug
3. Sofia
C. Becomes sidetracked with Grady, but eventually breaks away

III. Sofia
A. Has the strongest character to begin with
1. Easily defeats Harpo
B. Becomes weak once in jail
C. Oppressed first by Miss Millie, then by Eleanor Jane
1. Eventually asserts herself to Eleanor Jane

IV. Celie
A. The most heroic transformation
B. Draws inspiration
1. Sofia
2. Shug
C. Becomes inspiration to other women