Free Essay

Country Girls

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Taylor31
Words 2212
Pages 9
From ancient times, in every culture, humans have told stories to explain what goes on in the world around them, to honor people,to celebrate achievements,and to communicate human value ( Chugston, 2014). Both of these short stories achieved this goal. Each story was able to captivate you. The authors made you fall in love with the characters. You wanted to read more. “The Welcome Table” and “Country Lovers” showed sides of racism that took place in completely different parts of the world. Each author used their literary and keen writing skills in order to get the reader to completely understand the point each one of them was trying to make. In the short stories, “The Welcome Table” by Alice Walker and “Country Lovers by Nadine Gordimer, Racism is the theme and highlight of each one. Both stories are discussing racial issues but they are two completely different stories and the authors begin each one in a completely opposite fashion.

'”The Welcome Table” was written by Margaret Walker. Walker was published under her maiden name. She was best known for her poem "For My People," published in 1942, and her best-selling novel, Jubilee, based on her what her family went through during slavery and immediately after the Civil War, it was published in 1966. She was born in Birmingham, Alabama., Walker was a resident of Jackson, Miss., and was a professor emeritus at Jackson State College. She taught English and was also a director of the Institute for the Study of History, Life and Culture of Black Peoples.
Walker, began her career in writing in the 1930s. She,still was writing in the 1990s. Walker's last book of essays, On Being Female, Black and Free: Essays, 1932-1992, was published in 1997. This Is My Century: New and Collected Poems was published in 1989 (Odom, 1998). She died of Breast Cancer in
1998. She was 83 years old. Nadine Gordimer is the author of the short story “ Country Lovers”. She strongly opposed apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid is a dominant theme in all of her writings (Chugston, 2014). She found her themes in the injustices and cruelties of her country’s policies of racial division, and she left no quarter of South African society unexplored, from the hot, crowded cinder-block neighborhoods and tiny shebeens of the black townships to the poolside barbecues, hunting parties and sun downer cocktails of the white society (Verongos, 2014). Gordimer was the author of more than two dozen works of fiction, including novels and collections of short stories in addition to personal and political essays and literary criticism. Her first book of stories, “Face to Face,” appeared in 1949, and her first novel, “The Lying Days,” in 1953. In 2010, she published “Telling Times”:Writing and Living, 1954-2008, a weighty volume of her collected nonfiction. (Verongos, 2014). Nadine Gordimer died this year over the summer at the age of 90 in Johannesburg.

“The Welcome Table” by Alice Walker begins with a few lyrics from a negro spiritual. The song helps with giving you an insight about what you are going to be reading about. Here are the lyrics:
“I'm going to sit at the welcome table/Shout my troubles over/Walk and talk with Jesus/Tell God how you treat me/One of these days!” (Walker 1970). The song basically tells you what the story is going to be about in a nutshell. “The Welcome Table” is written in third person omniscient. The story is about a women who is living in her final days who wants to go to church before she passes away. She wonders off and finds herself trying to worship at an all Caucasian church. There skin color doesn't bother her but appears that her skin color bothers the church goers. The pastor tells her that she is in the wrong church. She ignores him. While she was sitting in the church, she was singing in her head (Walker, 1970). There was a young usher who said to her in a whisper that she should leave. She told him to “Go Away!” (Walker, 1970). I guess he was bothering hers. The white women of the church seemed to be bothered by her presence more so than anybody else in the congregation. That had been speaking negatively about her since she arrived. Since no one could get her to leave they had their husbands remove her. The men took their fist and placed them under the elderly woman's armpits and threw her out of the church. The elderly woman felt baffled. She wasn't happy about them interrupting her. When she got up, she saw something . She soon realized it was Jesus. She told him about how the people at the church as they walked. She also gave an account of what heaven looked heaven and used vivid descriptions when she described it. She was describing her death.

“Country Lovers” by Nadine Gordimer was about a relationship between to individuals that was forbidden or taboo. According to Chugston (2014), as you the reader read “Country Lovers”,you are faced with interracial issues,which are explored through the development of the characters, actions and personal dilemmas of a privileged white boy and an ultimately powerless black girl. The story was about a white boy named Paulus and a black girl named Thebedi. Paulus was the son of the farmer who owned the farm that Thebedi worked in. They used to play together when they were younger. They had a secret sexual relationship with each other when Paulus was 19 and Thebedi was 18 . Paulus went off to school. Meanwhile. Thebedi discovers she is pregnant by Paulus but she did not share this with him. Her parents arranged for her to be married to a man named Njabulo. Two months after Thebedi and Njabulo got married, Thebedi gave birth. Surprisingly, Njabulo did not seem to be bothered by the fact that his wife gave birth to a child that isn't his. He even built them a house.
When Paulus return from college he found out that Thebedi had a baby. Immediately he went to go see Thebedi. He asked her to show him the baby. He realized that the baby looks like him and he got teary eyed. He asked her has to keep the baby inside. He knew that if anyone seen the baby then they both would be in some serious trouble. Two days later, Paulus came back to see the baby. The baby got really sick. It had diarrhea. He asked her where was the babies food? Thebedi explained that the food that the baby eats is breast milk. Paulus went in the house were the baby was without Thebedi. She waited outside. Paulus then leaves and heads back to his father's home. The baby later died and died. After Njabulo buried the baby. Before he got the chance to finish making the cross for the grave, the babies body was dug up by the police and they took him. Someone who was on the farm got a glimpse of what they baby look like and told the police that the baby looked “almost white”(Gordimer, 1980). Pathological test on the infants deceased came back. It showed that the infant had intestinal damage that is not always consistent with death by natural causes (Gordimer, 1980). They charged Paulus with murder. The trial started one year later. During the trial, Thebedi testified on the witness stand. She was crying. She lied and said that Paulus poured liquid into the baby's mouth(Gordimer, 1980). She also said that he threaten to shoot her if told anyone. (Gordimer, 1980). Plus stated that he did visit the baby but he said that he did not poison the baby. The judge decided that there was not enough evidence to convict him with murder. The judge found him not guilty.

“The Welcome Table” and “Country Lovers” have many similarities. Both of these stories reflect on culture. When reading “The Welcome Table” and “Country Lovers'' you get an inside view of how apartheid and segregation affected all of their cultures from a wide angle view because of the point of view that each story was written in. Both stories are told in third person and was written in omniscient point of view. Chugston (2014) stated in our textbook that the “omniscient character is not a character in the story but has access to the thoughts, feelings and history of the characters. Alice Walker made a great choice in using this point of view. She helped the reader to understand what was going through the mind of the elderly lady and also helped us see things from the perspective of the congregation. In “Country Lovers”, Nadine Gordimer choice to use the third person omniscient point of view like Alice Walker chose to do helped the reader understand the situation that surrounded Thebedi and Paulus. If both stories were written in a first person point of view or the point of view of one of the characters, I think that the stories would have been less appealing and harder to relate to. The theme of both stories is racism. The setting in “The Welcome Table” to place during a time where segregation was heavily prevalent. Alice Walker definitely made you understand feel the affects of segregation and how African Americans were treated. Blacks and Whites did not worship together. Walkers genius writing skills gave you a picture inside of the white churchgoers and how they truly felt about the color of the elderly woman's skin complexion and the way she was dressed. Everyone in the congregation was staring at her. They felt that she did not belong there. The fact that the old lady did not acknowledged them only added fuel to the fire. This woman wasn't bothering them. All she wanted to do was worship. The feelings that I experience was just utter disbelief. Just because this woman did not look like them or dressed like them they didn't feel she deserved to be sitting in the same place as they sat.

“Country Lovers'' gave you a view of apartheid. Apartheid was a legal system that segregated South Africa by Race. Interracial relationship were not allowed . The Immorality Act, a key component of apartheid, was passed into law. The law made it illegal to have sex with people of different races in the area of marriage as well as casual sex. The law was followed by a ban on mixed marriages and a ban on sexual relations between Black and White people (“Commencement of the Immorality Act”, n.d).. Paulus and Thebedi had to hide their relationship as a result. Paulus reaction to the sight of the baby showed how deep rooted his fear was .

The imagery in “The Welcome Table” and “Country Lovers” aided in keeping my interest. I was able to visualize the appearance of the elderly woman from '”The Welcome Table”. Walker (1970) described her as “angular and lean and the color of poor gray Georgia earth, beaten by king cotton and extreme weather.” I envisioned a gray- haired old woman with a dress with missing buttons and a dress that gave of a foul smell. I felt like I could really see her staggering down the road. While reading. I pictured in my mind the church and the faces of the white people in the congregation. “In City Lovers ', imagery was present but it wasn't as vivid as it was in “The Welcome Table.' The story line was so great a full of drama, the lack of imagery did not serve as a distraction. Gordimer vividly described the cactus by the river bed. Gordimer (1980) described the cactus as “sunken-skinned and bristly like an old man's face.”

Both of these stories display symbolism. In 'The Welcome Table”, the symbol was Jesus. Jesus is symbolic to death. Another symbol is actually the title which is pretty ironic. The welcome Table symbolizes acceptance. All the elderly woman wanted to know before she passed away is that Jesus accepted her. Can you imagine her surprise, relief and excitement when she saw him?

The symbol in “Country Lovers” were the “guilt hoop earrings'. Although Paulus was dating someone else. He still brought Thebedi a gift as a symbol of their love. During the trial, Thebedi wore the earrings. I think she wore them because she felt guilty for not having the courage to stand up for their love and testifying against him. She wanted him to know that she loved him but they can never have a relationship together. The baby was also symbolic. The baby symbolized their affair and made it was pretty obvious that Njabulo was not the father. If everyone sees the baby, they would know that the baby's father was not African because of his light skin complexion.

Clugston, R. W. (2014). Journey into Literature (2nd ed.). San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Odom, Maida (!998). Retrieved September 29. 2014, from afilreis/50s/walker-margaret.html
Verongos, Helen T. (2014) Retrieved, September 29, 2014, from at-90.html?_r=0.

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