"Alice Walker Essays"

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Alice Everyday Essay

Words: 959 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 33841064

Alice Walker

There are different expressions and types of culture, and culture can mean different things to various people who are a part of the same culture. This truth is demonstrated poignantly in Alice Walker's short story entitled "Everyday Things." In this tale, there is a generation and culture clash between the worldly aspirations and ambitions of Dee, and the normal, everyday ambitions of her mother and her sister Maggie. At the heart of the issue explored within this story is what the proper usage of culture actually is. For some people, culture is something that is a reminder of the past and which is not readily interacted with everyday. For other people, culture is simply a way of life and how individuals and collectives go about pursuing their lives. A close examination of "Everyday Use" reveals that this tale examines a generation clash within a family related to culture, in which the author implies the everyday usage of culture is the most applicable version of it.

The principle way that Walker conveys to the reader that the most applicable means of regarding culture is to interact with it on an everyday basis is in settling a dispute between the family over the fate of valued quilts. Dee, who is a college student and is attuned to a modern appreciation of culture which views it as something quaint and historic but decidedly old-fashioned, wants to take some quilts that her mother has promised to Dee's sister, Maggie. Dee believes that the quilts should be given to her so that she can hang them up and enjoy the sight of them -- yet not regularly interact with them. Maggie, however, represents the traditional view of culture in which people regularly interact with it as a means of living their lives. The following quotation, however, reveals that Walker ultimately advocates Maggie's view of culture. In this passage the mother (who narrates the tale) suddenly decides to give the quilts to Maggie. "I did something I never done before: hugged Maggie to me, then dragged her on into the room, snatched the quilts out of Miss…… [Read More]

Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." Short Story Classics. 2006. Web.

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Gordimer and Walker Race and Gender Have Essay

Words: 2900 Length: 8 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 88137665

Gordimer and Walker

Race and gender have been shown to be major social issues throughout the world as demonstrated through short stories written by Nadine Gordimer, who writes from a South African perspective, and Alice Walker, who writes from an American perspective. Gordimer's "Country Lovers" (1975), takes a look at South African apartheid and allows the reader insight into the discrimination that was prevalent in society. Likewise, Walker's "The Welcome Table" (1970), takes a look at discrimination within American society. Gordimer and Walker's short stories analyze racial discrimination and the impacts that it has on the female protagonist in each story.

Nadine Gordimer was born in South Africa on November 20, 1923 and has lived there her entire life (Nadine Gordimer, 2005). Gordimer published her first work at 15 years old and since then, she has written numerous short story collections and novels. Although Gordimer contends that she is not a political person, "her writings document, decade by decade, the impact of politics on personal lives and what an increasingly radical white South African woman felt, thought, and imaged during the rise and fall of apartheid" (Bazin & Gordimer, 1995, p. 571). Gordimer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991 (Nadine Gordimer, 2009).

Alice Walker is an American novelist, poet, and essayist born in Eatonton, Georgia on February 9, 1944 (Alice Walker, n.d.). Walker is "one of the few black writers of the mid-60s to remain steadily productive for the two ensuing decades…and as a poet…and a novelist…Walker has always had a small but enthusiastic following, while her many essays…have kept her name current, albeit in rather limited circles" (Petry, 1989, p. 12). Walker was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for The Color Purple (Alice Walker, n.d.).

"Country Lovers" (1975) analyzes the relationship that develops between a white man named Paulus Eysendyck and a black woman named Thebedi. The two develop a relationship early in childhood and it is further developed as the children move through adolescence into adulthood. "Country Lovers" (1975) also highlights the racial discrimination that arose through apartheid in South Africa. Racial discrimination was formally institutionalized through the passage of a series of laws beginning in 1948,…… [Read More]

Bazin, N.T. And Gordimer, N. (1995). An interview with Nadine Gordimer. Contemporary Literature. 36.1 (Winter), pp. 571-587. JSTOR. Accessed 17 June 2012.

The History of Apartheid in South Africa. (n.d.) Stanford University. Accessed 6 May 2012,
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Celie and Shug in Alice Essay

Words: 853 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 7453565

What is interesting about this statement is the fact that Celie used to see herself as a tree that fought back her negative emotions.

Shug is instrumental in Celie's mental growth. She becomes Celie's confidant but, more importantly, Shug helps her view God differently. For example, Celie's earlier impressions of God are that he is a man that behaves much like the other men she has encountered in her life. She writes that God is "just like all the other mens I know... Trifling, forgitful and lowdown" (199). It is through Shug that Celie begins to recognize God is inside her and "inside everybody else" (202) and he is not a "he or a she, but a it" (202). Furthermore, she helps her see that God "ain't something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything" (202). Shug's ideas help Celie understand God on a deeper, more personal level, which ultimately allows her to appreciate herself as well.

Shug and Celie are also very different people is regards to authority figures. In the beginning of the novel, Celie has a profound respect for Shug who had authority over Mr. ____, which is a complete contrast to the relationship Celie had with him. Celie is weak and literally takes the verbal and physical abuse heaped on her by the men in her life. She never questions it and never fights back. (43) Through the help of others, she begins to realize this and slowly she evolves into a woman who believes she can rise above such treatment.

She becomes assertive and can even face herself and life chooses to throw her way. Later in the novel, she writes, "I'm pore, I'm black, I may be ugly and can't cook... But I'm here" (214). This statement reveals how she believes that she can…… [Read More]

Works Cited:
Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Pocket Books. 1982.
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Smith & Walker Both Smith and Walker Essay

Words: 2888 Length: 9 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 8404915

Smith & Walker

Both Smith and Walker who write about the plight of black people and the feelings of inevitability and racism can invoke in Black people and in their lives. A significant difference between the poem and the short story is the generation and age of the individuals. Whereas Walker's short story is concerned with the racism and pain experienced by an elderly African-American woman in the post-civil rights era, Smith is concerned with a young woman in the same era. The elderly woman is in rural country and the young woman, as evidenced by Smith's reference to 'Motown' is in an urban setting. The disconnect both women feel from both their bodies and from their surroundings is the unifying thread that binds these two seemingly disparate stories. I am interested in exploring the theme of alienation from one's surroundings and from one's body that lie at the heart of the story and the poem. I begin by reviewing the literature on alienation and race before I discuss Smith and Walker's texts.

That there is no formal thing such as 'race' is common place knowledge (Smedley 698). However, since it has emerged as a tool of self-identification in communities of color and as a tool of creating and sustaining hierarchical relationships, the question remains about how society, including artists should interact with the ideas of race and ethnicity. Interestingly enough, Smedley's survey of race throughout history reveals there was no specific configuration and that in the past ethnicity and race were malleable features and characteristics that could change and be acquired by peoples of all different phenotypes (Smedley, 691). The fear expressed by the members of the church of Walker's story and the self-loathing expressed the young girl in Smith's poem were not inevitable. Smedly's study demonstrates that it is only since the 18th century that the modern conception of race, which attributes social, biological, and political meanings to the "physical variations among human groups" has emerged (pp. 691-693).

Now that this way of perceiving human races and differences has been ingrained in us, and since raced groups such Native Americans and African-Americans embraced this ideology in order to form group identity,…… [Read More]

Smedley, A. (1998). Race and the construction of human identity. American Anthropologist, 100(3), pp. 690-702.

Smith, P. (2000) ed. Cary Nelson. What It's Like to Be a Black Girl (For Those of You Who Aren't). Anthology of Modern American Poetry.

Walker, A. (2003). In Love & Trouble: Stories. New York: Open Door, pp. 81-87.
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Black White and Jewish by Rebecca Walker Essay

Words: 1741 Length: 4 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 97405355

Black, White, Jewish

Black, White, and Jewish -- the Source of All Rebecca Walker's Angst?

Rebecca Walker's memoir Black, White, and Jewish, is subtitled "Autobiography of a Shifting Self." Walker states that is a woman who is most comfortable "in airports" because they are "limbo spaces -- blank, undemanding, neutral." (3) In contrast, because of her multi-racial and multi-ethnic identity, she is both never 'neutral' and also never quite 'of a color.' Only in airports to the rules of the world completely apply to her as well as to the rest of the world, Walker states -- and even then, this statement has an irony, given the recent events and controversies over airport racial profiling that occurred after the book's publication. The book does on to describe, with great poignancy, the author's perceived difficulty of living with a dual, often uncomfortable identity of whiteness and blackness, of Jewishness and 'gentileness.'

It should be noted, however, Walker is no ordinary young writer. Rebecca Walker admits she is not simply the child of an African-American woman and a Jewish father. Her mother is the famous author of The Color Purple, namely Alice Walker. Her father, although not famous in a conventional sense, began his career at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He was a man who embarked with Alice Walker on an experiment during the 1960's, an experiment of doing away with conventional notions of identity. Walker presents her self and her life as a kind of case study of what may occur when a social experiment is attempted upon the flesh of a young child, who desires stability above all things. However, the power of Walker's personal prose occasionally obscures the muddiness of the generalizing implications of her argument. To take an individual as an example that relates to an entire social movement, even if the individual is one's self is problematic. But although…… [Read More]

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Comparing Contrasting Essay

Words: 1513 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 84888724

Alice Walker & Ralph Ellison

Character Analysis of Dee in Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" and the Narrator in Ralph Ellison's "Battle Royal"

Works of literature by black American writers have evoked feelings of hopelessness and suffering of their fellow black Americans by putting them into context with the social changes happening in the American society. Take as an example the short stories "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker and "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison. Both stories depict racial discrimination in subtle, yet meaningful ways. In Walker's short story, discrimination is subtly expressed by through symbolic representations of the characters' demonstrated disregard or value put into their African heritage. In Ellison's work, years of racial prejudice and discrimination are depicted in a pseudo-battle where the harsh realities faced by black Americans are uncovered and laid bare for the Narrator to see and witness.

These manners of discussing racial prejudice and discrimination are effectively portrayed through the main characters of the stories. Dee in Walker's tale represents the present generation of black Americans who seem to adhere to their African heritage because it is a popular sentiment among the people she interact with in the predominantly white American society. The Narrator, similarly, resembles Dee's hypocrisy of their original African heritage by trying to conform to what the white society expects him to be: an educated man who will make his progress by "bowing" or ignoring the injustices happening to him and his fellowman. It is also remarkable to see that the characters of Dee and the Narrator as examples of black American people who experiences awareness or unawareness of their fellowmen's plight in life within the white American society. The texts that follow thoroughly discusses and analyzes the similarities and differences of the two characters, illustrating how each had dealt with the issue of racial prejudice and discrimination.

In "Everyday Use," Walker depicts through the characters of Dee and Maggie the contrasting nature that the younger generation of black Americans had…… [Read More]

Ellison, R. E-text of "Battle Royal." Available at: http://www.geocities.com/cyber_explorer99/ellisonbattle.html.

Walker, A. E-text of "Everyday use." Available at: http://www.bow.k12.nh.us/jmcdermott/everyday_use__by_alice_walker.htm.
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Victorian Childhood and Alice in Essay

Words: 3889 Length: 9 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 33413380

Alice in Wonderland as Victorian Literature -- Being a child in Victorian England was difficult. They had to behave like the adults did, follow all rules, they had to be seen but not heard. Children, however, are naturally curious; unable to sit for long periods of time, and as part of normal cognitive development, consistently asking questions about the world. In fact, childhood is the period when a child acquires the knowledge needed to perform as an adult. It is the experiences of childhood that the personality of the adult is constructed. Alice's adventures, then, are really more of a set of curiosities that Carroll believed children share. Why is this, who is this, how does this work? and, her journey through Wonderland, somewhat symbolic of a type of "Garden of Eden," combines stark realities that would be necessary for her transition to adulthood.

For Victorians, control was part of not only the social order, but their understanding of place and time in the world. As Alice tumbles down the rabbit hole: "Down, Down, would that fall never end? (Carroll, 13), she still remains so "logical" in that, "I wonder what the latitude or Longitude I've got to?" Ibid.) Education, being part of "control," was the way proper young Victorian children accepted their social class and became good English citizens. However, Carroll seems to be telling us that sometimes knowledge is useless in certain situations and the Victorian idea of "knowing all there is to know," as Alice mistakenly believes the world will be upside down, is incorrect. This shows that education was very important at the Victorian times and children were taught morals, rules and warnings on how to behave and what to do in which situation but in real life this was not always applicable and even useless, and Alice rather grows up through experience than through schoolbook knowledge. Indeed, the idea of a topsy-turvy world for Victorians would be one that was unordered to their sensibilities.

Alice is almost immediately presented with the painting of the roses and the death sentences given the painters by the Queen of Hearts, "Off with their heads." This is certainly an example of the absurdity of the adult world from the…… [Read More]