Kimberly Stratton Ballantyne
ENG 125 Introduction to Literature
March 28, 2011
Racial background and ethnicities are represented in the short stories “Country Lovers”, “The Welcome Table”, and the poem “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl”. All of these stories have a main character or protagonist black female. All three of these women deal with some degree of discrimination because of their color. The hardships that these women suffer during their life can be suffered by anyone but growing up in a discriminatory situation creates a more dramatic story.
The main themes in “Country Lovers” are love and racial politics. Country Lovers was written during a time when Africa was suffering from racial segregation. This story has irony throughout the entire story.
Thebedi and Paulus grow up together and they fall in love. They grew up in Africa during the apartheid when their country did not allow interracial relationships. Paulus Eysendyck was the son of the farm owner and Thebedi’s father worked on that farm. They both knew they could not be together publicly. During the apartheid in Africa it was illegal to have an interracial relationship. There are several dramatic effects in this story. The first is when the narrator talks about Paulus going away to school “This usefully coincides with the age of twelve or thirteen; so that by the time early adolescence is reached, the black children are making along with the bodily changes common to all, an easy transition to adult forms of address, beginning to call their old playmates missus and baasie little master” (Clungston, 2010).
There’s loss of innocence and forbidden love as described here when Paulus watches Thebedi wade in the water “The schoolgirls he went swimming with at dams or pools on neighbouring farms wore bikinis but the sight of their dazzling bellies and thighs in the sunlight had never made him feel what he felt now when the girl came up the bank and sat beside him, the drops of water beading off her dark legs the only points of light in the earth–smelling deep shade” (Clungston, 2010). This love would by any other means be normal, but since it is during the apartheid it is against the law.
Eventually, Thebedi becomes pregnant at eighteen with Paulus’s child. In order to protect herself Thebedi marries another man, Njabulo a laborer on the Eysendyck farm, like her father. When Paulus returns home on holiday he learns of the child, fearing that it is his, knowing the legal issues he could face, he goes to see the child. When Paulus sees the child “He struggled for a moment with a grimace of tears, anger, and self–pity. He said, "You haven't been near the house with it?" (Clungston, 2010) Both Paulus and Thebedi know the consequences if the child is found out about.
Two days later Paulus returns to Thebedi’s hut and drowns the child. The baby had been given a proper burial until “someone—one of the other labourers? their women?—had reported that the baby was almost white, that, strong and healthy, it had died suddenly after a visit by the farmer's son”(Clungston, 2010). In the end, a trial resulted in a “not guilty” verdict because of insufficient proof. Each one of these events is dramatic.
The main themes of “The Welcome Table” are impartial Christ-like love and racism. Walker’s story “The Welcome Table” never mentions a table except under the title it quotes an old spiritual.
We are never given a name of the old woman in this story. This creates anonymity about the woman; this is tragic because she is unknown. Based on the description of the woman’s clothes the idea is given that “Perhaps she had known suffering “(Walker, 1973). In the story of the old black woman is described as, “the color of poor gray Georgia earth, beaten by king cotton and the extreme weather” (Walker, 1973). This old Black woman is on a mission. Even though there is...