The Contrast of Virginia Woolf and Alice Walker

Topics: Writing, Fiction, English-language films Pages: 5 (1357 words) Published: January 23, 2000
After reading the four essays assigned to this sequence, it
becomes interesting to contrast two author's points of view
on the same subject. Reading one professional writer's
rewriting of a portion of another professional writer's essay brings out many of each of their characteristics and views.
Also, the difference in writing styles could be drastic, or
slight. Nevertheless, the writers display how versatile the
English language can be.

Alice Walker was born in 1944 as a farm girl in Georgia.
Virginia Woolf was born in London in1882. They have both
come to be highly recognized writers of their time, and they both have rather large portfolios of work. The scenes the
might have grown up seeing and living through may have
greatly influenced their views of subjects which they both
seem to write about. In her essay "In Search of Our
Mothers' Gardens," Alice Walker speaks first about the
untouchable faith of the black women of the
post-Reconstruction South. She speaks highly of the faith
and undying hope of these women and their families. She
even comes to recognize them as saints as she describes
their faith as "so intense, deep, unconscious, the they
themselves were unaware of the richness they held" (Walker

In a passage in which she speaks about the treatment and
social status of the women of the sixteenth century, Woolf
explains that a woman who might have had a truly great gift
in this time "would have surely gone crazy, shot herself, or ended up in some lonely cottage on the outside of town, half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked" (Woolf 749). Her
use of some of these powerful nominative shows that she
feels strongly about what she is writing. Also for her, life growing up and stories she may have heard may have
influenced this passage greatly. In her passage she imagines what it may have been like had William Shakespeare had a
sister. She notices how difficult it would be even given the same talents as Shakespeare himself, to follow throughout
and utilize them in her life.

It is clear after reading further into Woolf's passage that
obviously she lived in a different time period, only about fifty years apart though. The way she relates and tells a very
similar story with an entirely different setting shows without the reader even knowing that she was born in London as
opposed to Walker who was born in the United States. This
is evident in her vocabulary alone. Words such as the verb
"agog" or nouns like "stew" or "stockings" are not as
culturally accepted and used here in the United States. This plays a key role in the way they use contexts to tell stories and get the morals across. Walker, being born a farm girl in Georgia, uses the context of the racial deep South, and its

affects on the lives of black women. Woolf, who was born in
London, uses the context of William Shakespeare most
likely because he is a native legend all over the United

Also, what is interesting is the similarities of their grammatical writing styles. As Walker describes the women of the
post-Reconstruction South, she uses many literary devices.
One abnormally short paragraph, "Our mothers and
grandmothers, some of them moving to music not yet
written. And they waited" (Walker 695), which seems very
incorrect as far as grammar is concerned, leaves me as a
reader puzzled at why she writes this paragraph so isolated. It has some meaning to it without a doubt. "Moving to music
not yet written" is a powerful way to stress how ahead of
their time some of these women were. Although, I do not
believe that this is a well-written paragraph, my perspective of grammar is far inferior to the writers so I really cannot judge anything but my opinion. Moreover, at the beginning of her essay, Walker begins with what I would most likely call

some sort of a journal entry by a man named Jean Toomer.
He describes the attitudes and actions he would witness as
he walked through the South in...
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