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The Welcom Table Theme

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A Story's Theme

In the story "The Welcome Table" written by Alice Walker the obvious theme is the end of the old woman's life of servitude, ironically in contrast to the way she is treated and unappreciated by the ones she served. The author uses a combination of literary techniques to reinforce the theme, such as imagery, and symbolism.

During the story's exposition, the protagonist is described in the third person point of view, setting the ironic tone of the story. The narrator's point of view is so descriptive that the reader can imagine the old African American woman, and relate her to someone they actually know. "She was angular and lean and the color of poor gray Georgia earth, beaten by king cotton and the extreme weather. Her elbows were wrinkled and thick, the skin ashen but durable, like the bark of old pines" (Walker, 1970). This description is also used to symbolize the struggles of her life. The antagonists in the story the "others", who were Caucasians attending church, view of the old woman was symbolic of the ignorance during that time period. "Others saw cooks, chauffeurs, maids, mistresses, children denied or smothered in the deferential way she held her cheek to the side, toward the ground. Many of them saw jungle orgies in an evil place, while others were reminded of riotous anarchists looting and raping in the streets" (Walker, 1970). This is also an example of the author's ingenious way of combining both imagery and symbolism. The story is set in the winter, which common symbol of death, and foreshadows what's to come.

Irony is apparent in the story when the ladies of the church thoughts are reveled "They looked with contempt at the bootless gray arthritic hands of the old woman, clenched loosely, restlessly in her lap. Could their husbands expect them to sit up in church with that? No, no" (Walker, 1970). In my opinion, it's extremely ironic for Christian women to set in church and pass judgment on and old woman, based on her appearance and race, and have here thrown out of the church. "Under the old woman's arms they raised their fists, flexed their muscular shoulders, and out she flew through the door, back under the cold blue sky. This done, the wives folded their healthy arms across their trim middles and felt at once justified and scornful" (Walker, 1970). Once the old woman has been removed the "others" are free to begin they're worship through prayer and song.

The combination of imagery and symbolism continue as the old woman is meet on the street by Jesus. "For coming down the highway at a firm though leisurely pace was Jesus. He was wearing an immaculate white, long dress trimmed in gold around the neck and hem, and a red, a bright red, cape. Over his left arm he carried a brilliant blue blanket" (Walker, 1970). In



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