Alice Walker’s The Welcome Table. I chose this piece of literature because I read her novel The Color Purple when I was in high school, and I really enjoy her writing style. This story also brings back memories of things my family would tell me about how terribly black people were treated during that time period. It makes me sick to think of how people were treated so horribly simply because of the color of their skin. This story inspires me to stand up for my faith, gives me hope, and makes me want to be a better person.
In the eighth paragraph the old woman describes the way Jesus walks towards her, and the way she undoubtedly recognized him. I feel like most people envision their first meeting with Jesus to be the same way hers was. We all expect him to look as though he does in the pictures we have of him, and for him to approach us in that same manner. This story gives me hope that it will all happen the way I have envisioned it. We also want to die as peacefully, happy, and at ease as she did. This story also gives me the hope that when we do die, we have Jesus by our side and are as content and clueless as to what is happening as she was.
I chose to use the formalist approach when reviewing this story. This approach takes a look at the literary work itself and uses form and development as its’ main focus. Writers use literary tools the same way an artist would use different colors of paint. Writers use these tools to create representations of things they believe have great importance in their stories. This approach allows you to really get into the meaning of a story. You are able to begin to break-down the stories and discover what techniques the writer used, and what they were trying to express by using those literary tools.
Walker used a certain persona to tell this story; more specifically, she uses the omniscient technique. I feel like this was an extremely effective way to tell the story because it really allowed readers to get inside the heads of the characters in the story. Reader’s see exactly what the characters are thinking and feeling. This technique allows readers to relate and connect with the story on a whole different level. This story describes an elderly black woman who courageously walks the half mile to attend an all-white church one Sunday morning.
When she arrives, she is treated horribly by everyone at the church because she is representing what is to come. The Civil Rights Movement was just beginning to really take effect. White people were accustomed to things being segregated. However, this separation between races was ending, and they were very fearful of this When the white people look at her they see “hesitant creeping up on them of the law (Clugston, 2010),” which is referring to the laws being set in place by the Civil Rights movement.
The “privacy” that was also mentioned at the end of the second paragraph is referring to their want to keep things the way they had been. They wanted to keep their privileges and their “white superiority” regardless of the cost. Therefore, the people in the church throw her out. Paragraph four really begins to set the tone of the story. The way the old lady is treated really begins to fire up feelings in the readers. This is the point where they really begin to get emotionally involved in the story.
The plot of the story was also very intriguing. At the beginning of the story you do not quite understand why the people of the congregation harbor such harsh feelings about the old woman. Later you realize that it is a white church, and that the members are treating her this way because she is black. The story then takes on another twist after the old woman is cast out of the church. The theme of the story becomes about religion as well as race. The image of the main characters is described in acute detail using metaphors and similes.
The author uses similes when describing the old woman by saying “the skin ashen but durable, like the bark of old pines,” and that “some felt vague stirrings of pity, small and persistent and hazy, as if she were an old collie turning out to die. ” She is also described as “angular and lean, the color of poor Georgia earth (Clugston, 2010). ” Poor Georgia earth refers to the ashen color people become before they die. All of these statements clue reader to the fact that she is close to being on her death bed. Walker uses a lot of imagery and symbolism throughout the entire story.
The image of the old black woman initially stirs up feelings of sadness and reader’s want to feel sorry for her. However, as you continue reading, her image changes and so do the reader’s feelings. Reader’s no longer feel sorry for her, they are excited for her. Everyone in the story came to the church for the same reason, to be closer to the Lord, and readers are happy that she is the one who gets to experience Jesus. Symbolism is shown throughout the entire text. The cold that is described in the fourth paragraph is used as a symbol for several different things.
It represents the “cold shoulder” the old black woman was giving the rest of the people in the church by ignoring them and “brushing” past them. It is also used to symbolize the cold way they treated her. They despised her and loathed in the thought of her being in their church. They all had cold hearts of stone and made sure their actions depicted these cold feelings. This is proven because after the old black woman is cast out of the church, it instantly becomes warmer. Black is also used throughout the story to describe not only the color black but also to symbolize evil.
This is shown in the text when describing how the white people looked at her and what they thought of her. The text, “many of them saw jungle orgies in an evil place (Clugston, 2010),” is an example of this. However, it is not the black woman herself that is meant to represent evil. Evil is portrayed through the congregation and their evil way of thinking and their evil actions. . I feel like the central meaning Walker is trying to present throughout the text deals with both race and religion; it is meant to open people’s eyes about the way they feel about racial differences.
Walker has this story based in a church to emphasize these points. A church is supposed to be a holy sanctuary, a place where everyone should feel welcome to go and worship. However, the old woman is cast out based on the color of her skin. I feel like Walker is demonstrating that only God can truly judge us and that God does not discriminate. God created us all equally. He is the only one whose opinion matters on Judgment Day, and people need to realize this and begin treating others the way God would.