Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Cultural Geo-tagging Alice Walker’s short stories

By Kenton Rambsy

We should take the notion of cultural geo-tagging seriously when analyzing short stories by Alice Walker to understand how the South plays a crucial role in her artistic sensibilities. Geography contributes to the outlook of her characters.

Walker’s most well-known stories are set in the South and focus on intraracial conflicts. Those conflicts are not violent, but they do signal subtle and overt tensions that exist among groups of southern Black characters.

In this regard, Walker is extending the kinds of conflicts that Hurston introduces—conflicts among Black people. Furthermore, like Hurston and other short story writers who depict the South, Walker chooses to be vague about her rural southern settings and instead uses the characters to create a strong sense of place.

Long-held cultural beliefs from their upbringing bear on each of the women characters in Walker’s stories. Her background influences how they interact with other characters in each story. The perspectives presented in the stories offer readers considerations of lingering memories of the South and shape presentations of women in short fiction.

This entry is part of a series--A Notebook on The Geographies of African American Short Stories.

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