This paper compares and contrasts two different literary works, “Country Lovers” written by Nadine Gordimer and “The Welcome Table” by Alice Walker. Both stories follow the same theme, or hidden message or underlying idea in a story. They are about ethnicity and racism which ultimately results in the death of a person: the infant daughter in “Country Lovers” and the old lady in “The Welcome Table.” Racism has transcended generations, separated families and nations, and left heartache and grief in its wake. Synopsis of Both Stories
The first story, “Country Lovers” is about Paulus, the spoiled, rich son of a white farmer and Thebedi, the daughter of a poor black worker. The story tells how Paulus and Thebedi grew up together on a South African farm where as children, all played together regardless of their skin color. As the two grew older and began to live the separate lives expected of adolescents of their color, they continued to have secretive affairs, making love, giving presents, and telling stories. Thebedi eventually became pregnant shortly before Paulus left for school, and her wedding was arranged to Njabulo, a poor black farm laborer. Njabulo accepted the baby although it was clearly from a white father. Thebedi kept her baby daughter away from the white people to try to protect Paulus. Finally, after Paulus heard of the baby and saw her, he decided to kill the child to prevent any embarrassment from his parents and white colleagues (Gordimer, 1975). In Alice Walker’s “The Welcome Table”, the main character is an old black woman of faith. The old woman has obviously lived a long, hard-working life; yet, she is dressed in her Sunday best. Knowing her time is coming to an end, in ill health she staggers in the freezing weather to go to church. Even though her best dress is old, torn, and tattered, her face is weathered and filled with age that shows no emotion, she is determined to walk down the road alone from her home to go to the white church and worship where she knows she is not a welcomed visitor. At the church, the men and women stare at her in disdain, wondering how she dared to enter their sacred church. Ultimately, she was rudely escorted out of the church back into the cold weather where she sees Jesus and walks with Him. Suddenly, she could move as she had in her younger days, and she felt healthier and more energetic. In reality, she had died while walking back down the street, but none of the white people in the church knew what had happened to her. Narration
These two stories are similar in many ways, and they have their differences as well. Both stories are narrated in omniscient third person. Neither is being told or written by a character in the story. In third person point of view, the person telling the story refers to others as “he, she or it” but never as “I.” The omniscient third person narrator has knowledge of the specific time or era in which the story takes place. Emotional
Both stories also appeal to the emotions of most people who think that any type of racism or segregation is ridiculous. The reader would wonder how in “The Welcome Table” people of a church could make such an old, fragile, and obviously very religious woman be subjected to the freezing weather to die. Similarly, the innocent murder of the baby in “Country Lovers” can easily make one angry. Both stories want to make you cry and rejoice, but not necessarily in that order. One difference in the two stories is the tempo that they are written. “Country Lovers” begins with two young people who are obviously in love being happy together, albeit secretively because of the stigma that it can bring to the white man. The story ends sadly with the murder of the baby and Thebedi taking up for Paulus one last time as she states that she did not see what he did to the baby. “The Welcome Table” begins more somberly, but the tempo picks up and she seems happier as she walks with Jesus, although she has...
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