This student finds reading The Color Purple uncomfortable because it reminds her/him of her/his alcoholic stepdad beating her/his mother. Whenever he is drunk, he becomes scary and wants to destroy everything.
Whereas other students have found comfort in comparing their lives with Celie’s, this student finds the experience unpleasant, as s/he is still grappling with these difficult issues in the present.
Last night, after reading the book in class, the student reflects on what s/he can do to help her/his mother. S/he feels the book become reality when an argument in the other room becomes violent, and the student quickly runs in to push the stepdad away from her/his mom. While s/he feels like staying and beating the stepdad, who has been hitting her/his mother, s/he decides to drive her/his mother and little sister away to their aunt’s house. Seeing her/his mother’s fear makes her/him vow to not let anyone hurt her again. When s/he sees her/his mother’s eye turn purple, s/he realizes that “the color purple” has come to life in reality.
The violence that this student is faced with confirms once again that Ms. Gruwell has succeeded in identifying works of literature that her students will identify with. In turn, this student realizes that literature can accurately mirror reality, and that it can, perhaps, provide some comfort, as literature transforms reality into deep, emotional material. In this case, something as simple as the color purple can give profound meaning to a person’s actions, making this student aware of the significance of having saved her/his mother.