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Symbols

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English and Literature

The Welcome Table

In: English and Literature

The Welcome Table I read “The Welcome Table by Alice Walker. The Welcome Table is told in the third person and shifts the point of view from which the story is told. The theme of this story is a simple, but good one. The theme of this is about an old, rundown black woman who staggers the necessary distance in the freezing cold to attend an all-white people church. What captured my interest about this short story is the religious symbolism. Per R. Wayne Clugston “a symbol is an object, person, or action that conveys two meaning: its own literal meaning and something it stands for as well” (Clugston, 2010, p.480). It is filled with symbolism of life and death; good and evil; love and hatred; and peace and anger. Throughout this paper, Alice will demonstrate the significance of how the application of point of view, setting, and symbolism plays a role contributing the theme of a story.
In the story, a black woman enters a “white” church. She is a woman of faith; “there was a dazed and sleepy look in her aged blue–brown eyes” (Clugston, 2010) blue symbolizes a peacefulness that this woman has because of her faith. She is not a welcomed visitor to this congregation, though. The parishioners feel “a fear of the black and the old” (Clugston, 2010), the use of the word black is not just to tell us the color of her skin, but to symbolize evil. This is further supported in the words, “many of them saw jungle orgies in an evil place” (Clugston, 2010). The interesting thing about evil here is that it is not suggesting that the woman is evil. Rather, it is a symbol of what is in the hearts of the congregation. They are racists. They are unwilling to welcome her into their church. It is ironic, because they know this woman. The pastor may have called her “Auntie” and the usher may have called her “Grandma.” The use of these words symbolize a relationship with this woman, a relationship that they have outside of this church, but are unwilling to have inside of it.

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