In the stories The Welcome Table and Country Lovers, racism is a big issue. The other issue would religious/society beliefs as a whole.
Lets talk about both of the stories separately so that you may understand each aspect of them both. We will then discuss the comparison of the two stories.
The story, The Welcome Table is written in the “omniscient” point of view. This is when the story is being told by someone who is not a character but knows the thoughts and feelings of the characters in the story. “The omniscient technique is used in this story and is particularly effective in allowing the reader to understand the old woman’s predicament and how she, and the others, dealt with it”.( Clugston, R. W )
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The Welcome Table is told in the third person and shifts the point of view from which the story is told. This story start out being told from the white people’s perspectives as they judge the old black woman that is trying to come to their church and take part in their service. Inside the church, the usher tells the old black lady to leave. The white women inside the church, seem to take it as a personal insult and feel the most threatened about the old black lady being at their church. “They rouse their husbands to throw the
old lady out. The perspective then changes to the old black lady”. (Bookrags)
The old lady is picked up under her arms which were described as smelling of “decay and musk”. This is a good example of the stereotyping and judgmental thoughts that were used to describe the old woman. She is poor, old and dirty through their eyes.
The lady sees a figure coming down the road. She recognizes this individual as the man in the picture above her bed. The man was Jesus, the one she worshipped. When the old woman meets Jesus he is described as a typical Jesus, he wore sandals, had a long beard and a long, white dress. Jesus showing up and being hope for the old woman would fall under the symbol of light also. The story talks about the glow around him, and the feelings she had seeing the one she had worshipped for so long.
Jesus simply raised his hand to her and said “follow me”. The old woman then follows Jesus and starts talking openly with him. Nothing else mattered at this point.
Jesus shows her that he does not judge and that he loves her and accepts her for
being true and worshiping him. The way we would all hope things to be .
There are many descriptions through out this story that made you feel
connected with the characters. The detail given to the old woman’s face, her clothes, and
the body structure made it very possible to see a image of the character being described.
The color of her skin, the circles around her eyes, her oily scarf around her head and even
the mildew on her dress were very good points made about the character. These points make it easy to get into the story that is being told. These descriptions would be symbols for the racism point of this story.
This story had a lot of meaning to it. The reasoning that the individuals in the church behaved the way they did is the reason this story could fall under the criticism actor of rhetorical.
Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, and the rhetorical approach attempts to understand how the content of the story, which is more than intellectual meaning, is put
across. How arguments are presented, attitudes struck, evidence various appeals made to the reader and all are relevant.
In this story the individuals that attended the church that the old woman came into
believed that they were acting the way God would want them to in his house. Unfortunately, they behaved in quite the opposite way of how he would have wanted. The individuals judged and criticized the woman on her skin color and appearance. They knew nothing about her, but chose to judge and degrade her anyway. This was morally wrong and not the way they should of acted.
This story tries to make the argument appear morally right and that the church individuals acted that way for good reason. As the story goes on, you realize that the reason the people acted this way was not only for vanity reasons, but for personal judgmental reasons.
The social and racial boundaries in South Africa are clearly portrayed in Country Lovers. This story is in third person point of view. The symbol in this story would have to be the rooted tree. The tree represents life and death. The characters in this story come
from completely different backgrounds. The two become intimate and are found out by the authorities. The author illustrates the differenced between the two lovers and how their society reacts to them.
“Life in South Africa under the apartheid was very oppressed and difficult for the black and the colored people. The apartheid consisted of numerous laws that allowed the ruling white minority in South Africa to segregate, exploit and terrorize the black (Africans) and colored majority. The laws touched every aspect of social life, including a prohibition of marriage or sexual relationships between non-whites and whites. Offence of especially the last law mentioned could easily lead to rigorous punishments and subtle white corruption. The circumstances were unfair and inhuman and only few people dared to believe and fight for their freedom”. (schoolsucks)
Paulus and Thebedi have known each other since they were children. “In South Africa it was quite common that the farm children both black and white played together when they were small, but once the time came when the white children went away to town for school the black children would soon start to call their former playmates “Miss” and “Master”. (balchfriends)
Paulus is son of the farm owner that Thebedi will eventually work at. Paulus is a caucasian, and Thebedi is African American. The author tells us that the white children are being sent to school, and even though the black children also goes to school, none of them ever get to be as well educated as the white children. As the children develop
physically, the black children learn to address the white children as “master”. Paulus falls in love with Thebedi, and even though she’s black and he notices that she is wearing his sister’s old hand me down clothes, he doesn’t see her in the way others do. ” Paulus doesn’t seem to understand that his old playmate now, simply is to be considered one of the crowd of black farm kids. He keeps regarding her as an equal and his friend.”
Paulus by the age of 15, started being introduced to wealthy white girls. These were the daughters of wealthy white farmers like his father. They attended the “sister” school by him. He was able to do what he wanted to with one at a wedding in the storeroom. He was very popular in school.
Paulus brought Thebedi presents when he came home for the holidays. He brought her a belt and hoop earrings that he had bought at a little shop while out on one of his outings. He also hand made her a wooden box. He secretly gave it to her because he did not have gifts for the others in the village. Thebedi loved the painted wooden box that he made for her in class.
Thebedi doesn’t tell the other girls at the village that she got them from Paulus, but she says that she has a sweetheart on another farm who gave her the presents. She told her father that she had earned them for doing work. These presents were envied by many, including a young black man by the name of Njabulo. He wished he had given her the belt and hoop earrings. He too was in love with Thebedi.
Thebedi made Paulus a present and gave it to him before he left.. She gave him a homemade bracelet. The bracelet was made out of brass wire and beans they had harvested. He loved the gift that he was given. Paulus never stops loving Thebedi and the bracelet is admired very much by his friends at school.
During the next visit home Paulus spent a lot of time alone. He took long walks in solitude thinking of Thebedi . He and Thebedi both manage to get away, and independently met at the riverbed. They had hung out there together five or six years earlier. He knew it was her from far away. Thebedi knew his dog would not bark at her either. They squatted next to one another on the ground, Paulus nervously fidgets with the tree roots on the ground next to him. Thebedi listens closely to the stories that Paulus tells her about troubles in school, his travels and about a town she had never visited called Middleburg.
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The two of them make love. “They were not afraid of one another, they had known one another always; he did with her what he had done that time in the storeroom at the wedding, and this time it was so lovely, he was surprised . . . and she was surprised by it, too-he could see in her dark face that was part of the shade, with her big dark eyes, shiny as soft water, watching him attentively”. (Clugston 2010)
They have a very long relationship, but they almost don’t talk to each other anymore.
They spent a lot of evenings at the riverbed together. Thebedi decided to visit him at the farmhouse while her parents were away.
The time arrives for Paulus to leave for vet school. Thebedi decides not to tell him that she thinks that she is going to have a baby.
Thebedi turns eighteen, while Paulus is away at school. Njabulo, asks her father for her hand. He pays the money that is required to be able to marry her. After becoming married she gives birth to a baby girl. Thebedi does not tell Paulus that her parents had arranged her marriage to Njabulo.
Paulus went to the village to see the baby. She was lighter skinned and had the same hazel eyes as Paulus. A teary eyed Thebedi listened to Paulus demand that she keep the baby hidden.
Paulus returned a few days later and killed the baby. The courts said there was not enough evidence to prove him guilty. Thebedi was even under suspicion since she recanted her original story that she seen him pour liquid down the bay girl’s throat.
Thebedi’s last statement to the press quoted under her photograph was that it was a thing of their childhood and that they never spoke anymore.
In both of these stories, the circumstances and situations were unfair and inhumane. Individuals in both stories were judged and stereotyped in numerous ways.
Each one of these stories illustrates how racism plays a part in societies judgment.
For instance, in The Welcome Table, the white church goers thought they were above the old black woman. They felt like she did not have the right to be there even to worship the same God they did. The author engages the reader in inter-racial issues from a sociological/moral perspective.
In the story Country Lovers, the white society thought they were better than the black society. Children were not schooled together and races were not to mix. Black children were raised to call the white man “master”. The author engages the reader in inter-racial issues from a sociological/psychological perspective in this story.
The analytical method that would go with this story the best would be a formalist
approach. This approach would be best since the setting was during a time that mixing
races were unthinkable.
The white people were treated better by one another as well as by society. This is
a good example showing that segregation happens in many ways although worlds apart.
Pressure of keeping up with the standards and beliefs of society can make
individuals go to extreme measures. This was shown by the change in the relationship between Paulus and Thebedi. Their relationship was so strong and full of hope in the beginning. However, the birth of the child changed Paulus and the pressures set in causing him to kill his very own daughter that was conceived out of love.
Some of us struggle with issues within ourselves and some are just day to day
problems. We are left trying to be what everyone around us wants us to be. We have
come along way with race, segregation and discriminationâ€¦â€¦just not far enough.
It is important to remember that not all thoughts and ideas are morally correct.
There are many people that want to judge because they think that it is religiously right.
They need to realize that to judge is morally wrong regardless. God does not judge us,
and no man nor society has the right to either.
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