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Alice Walker: The Welcome Table Essay

Through literature we are able to learn about different meanings and other human experiences. “Literature influences each individual differently” (Clugston, 2010). In Alice Walker’s short story The Welcome Table, it allowed the readers to read and learn about how, and what life was like for an elderly black lady during the 1960s. During these times blacks were discriminated against and the cruel treatment that they endured as human beings was unnatural and unheard of to us in this day and time. In this short story by Ms. Walker, it portrays to the readers how during this time period the African Americans were treated. The reason that this story caught my attention was due to the fact that the elderly lady that is portrayed in the story was so cruelly discriminated against for entering a white church.

As you read this story, one cannot help but be intrigued by how the story speaks about the elderly lady and how she has lived her life and had been treated her whole life. Alice Walker starts the story off with the woman getting ready to attend church and the clothes that she is dressed in, you knew she had no money. “The old woman stood with eyes uplifted in her Sunday~GO~TO~ meeting clothes: high shoes polished about the tops and toes, a long rusty dress adorned with an old corsage, long corsage, long withered, and the remnants of an elegant silk scarf as headrag stained with grease from the any oily ponytails underneath.” (Walker,1967) This poor lady had lived a hard life and it showed on her face and body, so you could tell she knew suffering. The story tells us that this old lady stumbles into an all white church from the freezing cold. The poor white people just stared at her in pure disbelief as though she had committed a crime for entering their church.

In the reading it stated “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.” (Clugston, 2010) This shows from the sentence, the way the congregation looked at the elderly lady, they were afraid of African-Americans at this time period for no reason that they could even fully understand. They meaning the white community did not like blacks and they were treated unjustly at all times and any cost.

The way that the black people were treated back in the 1960s and even before the 1960s, the African-American people were not treated or respected like the white people. To read a story like this, helps me to understand the struggle and pain that the woman endured, as it was told by the narrator or persona of the reading. Some of the people felt as if the beginning of the end of worshipping of the Holy Church and as an invasion of their privacy. Many felt also as if they had lost their privacy now that she had entered their place of Holy Worship.

As, I bring this to a close we have to remember that no matter whom or where we are in the world today, we should not pass judgment on another person just because of how they dress, their ethnic background, or where they may live. The story portrayed an elderly black lady who was forgetful and showed her struggle through her eyes and body still walked down the road about a half mile to this church to worship the lord. Even though she was thrown from the church, she did not stop singing and talking to her God. To me, this shows us that no matter our struggle we should never stop believing in what we believe just because someone else does not want us to.

Clugston, R.W. (2010). Journey in literature. Retrieved from Walker, Alice, (1967). The Welcome Table. Retrieved from Retrieved 1/16/2013 Walker, Alice, (1967). The Welcome Table. Literary Cavalcade; Feb 2003;55-5; Proquest Central, Retrieved 1/16/2013

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