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Early Years
1. Introduction
2. The Accident
3. Solitude
4. Transformation
College Years
Becoming a Writer
Resurrecting Zora
The Color Purple
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Early Life
Alice Walker

Time Line

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  • 1944:  February 9, Alice Malsenior Walker is born to sharecroppers, Willie Lee and Minnie Tallulah  (Lou)  Grant Walker in the farming community of Eatonton, GA.
  • 1952: At the age of eight, Alice is accidentally blinded by one of her brothers while playing a game of "Cowboys and Indians."
  • 1952-58:   Alice is ostracized as an outcast because of her scar. To deal with her feelings of loneliness, Alice begins to read and write poetry.
  • 1958:   At the age of fourteen, while visiting her brother Bill in Boston, Alice is taken to a hospital to have the cataract in her eye removed. She becomes confident and her life is transformed.
  • 1960:  Alice graduates as valedictorian from her high school class. She is voted most popular student of her graduating class and is elected queen of the prom.


Journey Through Solitude

After her accident, Alice's grades plummeted. Because of the noticeable scar in her right eye, she became an easy target for the other children in her school who teased her mercilessly. The very same brother who accidentally shot the BB pellet that had blinded Alice, soon became her one of her staunchest defenders against her bullies. However, since her brother loved to brag so much about coming to the defense of his youngest sister's it began to become tiresome. He boasted so much about being her protector that it started make Alice sick.

Alice's personality changed significantly. The once out-going girl who loved to speak in front of crowds, became withdrawn and introverted. Because she is teased by her classmates, Alice became deeply ashamed of herself and began to believe that she was ugly. When people would look at her face, she would quickly turn away or look down. She refused to look other people directly in the eye for fear that they might stare back at her and see only her scar.

Because of her new difficulties, her parents decided that it might be better if they sent away Alice to live with her grandparents. They thought that being around her her old friends would help to cheer her up. But Alice saw being sent away as a form of punishment. She thought that she was being blamed for the accident which she felt wasn't her fault. She stayed with her grandparents for a year and then moved back home.

It was during this time that Alice decided to pray to God. She asked God not for the sight in her right eye to return. Instead, she prayed for her scar to go away. She prayed for beauty.

During this time, Alice described herself as being a solitary person who daydreamed of falling upon swords rather than living happily ever after in fairy tales. After she returned home, Alice was allowed to sit quietly and read books for hours upon end. Alice believed that her mother allowed her to skip doing her chores because her mother saw reading as being an outlet to help with the pain and difficulties Alice endured after the accident. It is during this time that Alice discovered the classical authors. She also began to write poetry as a way of dealing with her feeling of loneliness and shame as a result of the accident.

Although her difficulties were painful, it was through persecution that enabled Alice to grow as a person. She credited the time that she spent as an outcast as being instrumental in allowing her to view people and things as they truly are. She says that the cruelty enabled her to make more realistic observations of people and to be patient in nuturing relationships. The tragedy of losing her eye also enabled Alice to see that her body was merely a covering, hiding the person she truly was inside.

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Healing and Transformation

At the age of fourteen, Alice visited her older brother, Bill in Boston. He realized the shame she faced as a result of her scar. So while Alice was babysitting for him during the summer, Bill took Alice to a local hospital where he paid for her to undergo surgery to have the scar removed. After the eye healed only a blue crater was left in place of where the white cataract used to be.

When it is gone, Alice transformed from a girl who could not lift her head to look others in the eye into one who could be proud. She began to speak up in classes and her grades improved significantly so much so that by the end of high school, Alice graduated as valedictorian. She also succeeded in making many new friends in the time after her operation. Alice made so many new friends that she was elected as the most popular student in high school by her graduating class. She was even voted to be queen of the senior prom.

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