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Reader’s Response Essay

1326 words - 6 pages

The literary work that captured my interest was “The Welcome Place” by Alice Walker. This fictitious work captured my interest with the lyrical musical expression and tone in the beginning of the short story. This writing also has a symbolic meaning for the African American culture. It describes the fight for freedom and cultural equality. “The Welcome Place” is written about the slavery time period and how African Americans were treated. According to Clugston, 2010, “The point of view is called "omniscient" 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 ...view middle of the document...

“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 pigtails underneath.” (sec. 3.1) Readers also visualize the woman at the church and how she was received. “Some of those who saw her there on the church steps spoke words about her that were hardly fit to be heard, others held their pious peace; and some felt vague stirrings of pity, small and persistent and hazy, as if she were an old collie turned out to die.” (sec. 3.1) The white parishioners were upset the black woman entered what they considered a refuge - their church. This was one place white people considered safe from people they considered beneath them. Coloreds were only viewed as cooks, maids and as mistresses. The woman’s entrance into the church represents the introduction of a new era; in which all people will be considered equal. In the eyes of the congregation this woman epitomizes disgust, lack of knowledge and future anxiety. She also represents old age; which is an unspoken commonality with the white women. This creates tension with feelings of vulnerability and disrespect. “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. But none of them said so, for none of them ever spoke of the incident again. Inside the church it was warmer. They sang, they prayed. The protection and promise of God's impartial love grew more not less desirable as the sermon gathered fury and lashed itself out above their penitent heads.” (sec. 3.1)
The reader experiences pain, bewilderment and frustration at the people’s actions. After the woman is removed from the church, she becomes elated to see the focus of her pursuit – Jesus. “She started to grin, toothlessly, with short giggles of joy, jumping about and slapping her hands on her knees. And soon it became apparent why she was so happy. For coming down the highway at a firm though leisurely pace was Jesus.” (sec. 3.1) This allows the reader to obtain a feeling of happiness, hope and peace.
According to Clugston, 2010, the reader-response approach the meaning of “The Welcome Place” is one of serenity and harmony. It provides the reader with a feeling of hope. This feeling is for people who have lived a life dealing with harsh treatment and enslavement. Although, the woman dies at the end, she is happy to be with Jesus and free. The literature gives hope to people who live and work as servants that; eventually they will have approval, happiness and compassion. Pursuant to Donald and Hansen-Krening, 2000, The reader-response theory has “three domains”; which are “affect, behavior and cognition.” (p. 73) This concept is based upon the principles used by psychologists to study human behavior. (p.72)
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