Comparison and Contrast of Two Literary Works

Topics: African American, Racial segregation, Racism Pages: 8 (1887 words) Published: September 22, 2014

Comparison and Contrast of Two Literary Works
Holly R. Long-Williams
ENG125: Introduction to Literature
Angela di Gualco
August 12, 2014

Comparison and Contrast of Two Literary Works
The short stories “Country Lovers” and “The Welcome Table” have some similarities and differences. Gordimer’s “Country Lover’s” and Walker’s “The Welcome Table” are both considered short stories and have racial disparities. The two stories share some common general features with racial themes but are also different in some ways. This essay will compare and contrast the two literary works, “Country Lovers” written by Nadine Gordimer in 1975 and “The Welcome Table” written by Alice Walker in 1970 in aspects of the racial segregation discrimination of blacks and whites and with the literary elements of theme. These literary works are the foundation that will allow the reader to increase a better understanding of how African Americans suffered in slavery days when the harsh discrimination of racism and segregation caused so much adversity in America. To give a little background on segregation and racial disparities, we will look into how it was viewed in America in the era of racism. Segregation was a common racist action that stemmed from the Jim Crow Laws where African Americans were considered inferior to the white population. The Jim Crow Laws “…deprived African-Americans of their civil rights by defining blacks as inferior to whites…” (Anonymous, 2009). These heartless laws segregated the two ethnicities in civilization such as restrooms, buses, schools, restaurants, or any other establishment that they would interact. Segregation amongst the establishments would be labeled as “Colored” or “White” and was considered constitutional and legal under the Jim Crow Laws (Anonymous, 2009). With the segregation era amongst blacks and whites in establishments and relationships, this essay will now discuss some of the comparisons in the literary works to support the racial segregation theories from the two works of “Country Lovers” and “The Welcoming Table”. “The Welcome Table” and “Country Lovers” both have clear themes of racial inequalities and segregation disparities that are apparent throughout both stories and create a hostile and cruel environment. A theme is defined as, “An idea, or message, that lies behind a literary work.” (Clugston, 2014, p. 395). In other words, it is the main idea or message that the author is portraying in their writings that he wants the audience to grasp. In Walker’s and Gordimer’s story, it shows segregation and racism in the very beginning of the stories. For example, in “The Welcome Table”, the old woman attends an all-white church and is chastised by the congregation and is ordered to leave. The whites looked at her in horror. The author gave the readers a clear imagination with her narration and states: And so they gazed nakedly upon their own fear transferred; a fear of the black and the old, a terror of the unknown as well as of the deeply known. Some of those who saw her there on the church steps spoke words about her that were hardly fit to be heard, others held their pious peace; and some felt vague stirrings of pity, small and persistent and hazy, as if she were an old collie turned out to die. (Walker as cited in Clugston, 2014, p. 29). The racial discrimination from the white church members is obvious in this scenario as it will be in “Country Lovers” when it is explained in this essay. The white people feared the blacks and old people as well. They talked about her in words that would be considered sinful. A church is a place to worship and praise their higher being. Most churches promote kindness and a racial-free ambiance. This scene in the story is absolutely degrading and humiliating and supports the racial theme that is set and created a discriminating environment. This can be compared to racial discrimination in “Country Lovers” as well....

References: Anonymous. (2009, Feb 22). Jim Crow Era: A painful time. The Ledger Retrieved from
Clugston, R. W. (2014). Journey into literature (2nd ed.). San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
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