Like a Winding Sheet

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Often times in literature, it is common for people to view different articles, novels, and short stories in a perspective that is common to us. What we sometimes fail to do in this analysis of literature is look at issues going on in the story, characters, or the major theme from a different perspective or angle in order to fully understand how many different groups would view the same literature being analyzed. By expanding our thought process and entertaining these different viewpoints, our own contentions, opinions, and ideals will be enhanced with a more worldly view and we can also begin to understand and tolerate the ideals of others who may think differently than our own viewpoints. One short story that has many different levels and can be viewed from many different perspectives is Ann Petry’s “Like A Winding Sheet” which tells the short tale of an unnamed African American man and his stressful life on a day that is particularly overwhelming. Many themes and perspectives can be overlooked and viewed through this story but if you can view this story from both an economist viewpoint and the viewpoint of a feminist it can further our understanding of what Johnson’s life could have been like, also it is important to note the effect of stress, frustration, and anger are all intertwined.

From the very beginning of “Like a winding sheet” we can tell that the economy and finances will be a repetitive theme throughout the story. The short story takes place in is set in a 1940’s Harlem ghetto where Johnson, the main character is overworked and more than likely underpaid. Johnson earns his family’s living with his hands and feet at a factory where he is often late and tired do to the strenuous and sporadic hours he is allotted to work. “He knew he ought to get up but instead he put his arms across his forehead to shut the afternoon sunlight out of his eyes, pulled his legs up close to his body, testing them to see if the ache was still in them.”...
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