Essay, Pages 4 (859 words)
Electing the short story “The Welcome Story”, by Alice Walker (1970) for me was an easy choice for me to write a critiqued essay about. I am using a reader response approach in my critical essay. I like this approach because of the initial dedication to her sister Clara Ward, “I’m going to sit at the welcome table, shout my troubles over, walk and talk with Jesus, tell God how you treat me, one of these days! ” This statement indicates that the old woman in the story is a spiritual woman and is looking forward to her day of meeting with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Welcome Table story was intriguing to me because the author describes the old woman as one who does not have emotional ties with the people around her, is alone, and does not have the luxuries of life that one would expect for a woman of her era in today’s time. The one luxury and seemingly the most important one anyone could ever have is her closeness with Jesus and the luxury of knowing that her time is here for her to join him for eternity.
It is apparent the pain the woman has endured through her life just by the description of the condition of her body “beaten by king cotton and the extreme weather”, the condition of her clothing items “a long rusty dress adorned with an old corsage, long withered, and the remnants of an elegant silk scarf as head rag stained with grease from many oily pigtails underneath”, and the emptiness conveyed by her to the outsiders “a dazed and sleepy look in her aged blue brown eyes.
The old woman has closed herself off to the people of the church, as she enters the church and the reverend addresses her as “Auntie” yet attempts to discourage her from entering the church. How can one be a family member possibly biologically and a relative of the reverend of a church and still be turned away by the reverend himself? That seems to be hypocritical, pompous, and self-righteous. As an old saying goes, “God does not like ugly. ” Meaning people of an evil nature and doing harm to others.
Yet the old woman just brushes past the reverend as if he had not even spoken to her and enters the church and takes a seat and starts singing in her head. All the while the congregants of the church are whispering their lewd and more self righteous comments believing that it is okay to be so crude to another human just because she is an old black woman. It seems as though the old woman has allowed herself to escape the living reality and focus on her future with Jesus.
Maybe everything in her life has been so painful that she can no longer bare the living life and hard memories of everything she has endured. It is obvious the people in her community do not wish her well rather just the opposite wishing her ill will. Reading this story has been somewhat enlightening to the fact that it is easier to comprehend why some African Americans seem so hard and closed to opening up to the society around them even in today’s era.
Why would one want to open themselves up for ridicule and abuse if that is all they know to have been done to people of an African American heritage and being female on top of it only seems to make it worse as she was also alone and had no one to defend her. The old woman still has pride by dressing in her best clothes even though they seemed raggedy to others and walking into the church despite all the negativity around her. How brave and strong willed she is. My connection to this story and this old woman is strong.
I felt her determination and will to go on and reach for the happiness that is so deserved. The Welcome Table to me refers to the table that she met with Jesus and she could say anything to him without being judged or ridiculed. Reading this story has enlightened my perception of what others may be going through or have gone through that makes them seem difficult to get along with or be personable with. People should attempt to keep an open mind and not judge a book by its cover as I have so many times done throughout my life.
If it could only be true and tied to all that with age comes wisdom. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I personally wanted to enter this story and stand and sit by this woman while holding her hand. Only to show her that not all the people around her have a mean spirit in them and there is kindness though often hard to find amid all the rude individuals in her presence. She seemed to have been ready to meet her maker and be free of all of the hardships in the physical earth life and ready to be a happy and joyous person in the heaven above.