20 Th Century

Download African American Women Writers’ Historical Fiction by Ana Nunes (auth.) PDF

By Ana Nunes (auth.)

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Extra resources for African American Women Writers’ Historical Fiction

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This silence is equated with a sense of powerlessness in relation to Hetta’s death, and it permeates almost every aspect of the slaves’ lives. Caline fans Hetta in silence, and the repetitious movement reflects both the latter’s inescapable death and the former’s inescapable life in bondage. ”65 Throughout the episode, her lips are “tied” and “tightly set,”66 suggesting a sense of anger and hopelessness translated 38 AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN WRITERS’ HISTORICAL FICTION in silence—Walker records the impossibility of public expression as she accounts for private responses.

I will write books that will prove the history texts were distorted. ”8 It is interesting SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT 27 to note here how Walker represents her experience in terms of past and future tenses. The history learned on the school benches of the segregated South contributed to this first impulse to set the record of American history straight. In the North, Walker realized that poverty and injustice were not confined to the Southern states or to one side of the racial dividing line. In 1934, the year Walker was a senior student at Northwestern, 17 percent of the white population and 38 percent of the African American population were unable to find employment, and a large number of people were dependent on state relief.

The choice of the spiritual also suggests, as in other moments of the narrative, that there are instances in the slave’s life that can only gain expression through religion. Such is the nightmare they inhabit that agreed-upon formulas of response are the only way forward. Thrown on their own resources, the responses are screams and groans—the minister offers form and meaning in the absence of other systems of expression. This is a chapter comprising images of death and stagnation. The characters are consigned to the immediate surroundings of Hetta’s cabin.

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