Read Bonner's essay "On Being Young—a Woman—and Colored" (1925). What issues and concerns does she raise in this essay? In what ways is the style in which the essay is written effective in conveying these ideas? In what ways does this essay help to illuminate the concerns addressed in The Purple Flower.
It has often been remarked that Bonner's plays were not written to be performed but to be read. In fact, none of her three plays was ever performed during her lifetime, although they were published in magazines. Act out a segment from The Purple Flower. In what ways does performing the play help you better understand its meaning? What difficulties arise in translating the written word of the play into a performance?
Bonner's short stones, published primarily during the 1930s, represent elements of Afhcan-American experiences in the urban environment of Chicago during the Depression. Learn more about the experience of African Americans during the Depression.
Bonner's work is associated with the Harlem Renaissance, the great flowering of African-American literature in the 1920s Learn more about the Harlem Renaissance and the writers, musicians, and artists associated with it. Who are the significant figures of the Harlem Renaissance, and what are their most significant works? What social, political, and aesthetic concerns are associated with the Harlem Renaissance?
The Purple Flower has been described as an allegory, which means that the characters, actions, and events of the play are meant to be interpreted symbolically. Bonner used this form to address issues of racial conflict in America. Try to write a short play or scene that functions as an allegory for some particular social or political issue that concerns you. What is the moral of your play or scene? How can you most effectively convey that message in a dramatic form.
Much of Bonner's fiction is set in Chicago in the 1930s, Learn more about the history and culture of the African-American population of Chicago during the first half of the twentieth century.