20 Th Century

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By Ana Nunes (auth.)

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Nor does he consider the children he had with her and who sooner or later he had to sell away to appease his wife. His memories are reduced to Hetta’s young body: “Her small young breasts tilted up, and even her slight hips and little buttocks were set high on her body. ”86 Like the other characters, he remembers Hetta on his own terms, and for him she is the temptress whom he has to subdue and possess. Having Hetta’s body as the focal point of his reminiscences ties in with his view of the relationship between master and slave: “Miscegenation was no sin to Marse John.

My grandmother told the story of a woman tarred and feathered in the neighborhood [by a mob] . . ”5 These incidents, lived and told by the people who had a decisive influence in the formation of young Walker’s character, remained with her all her life and began to instill in her a desire to understand the roots of racial discrimination and to contest social inequality. Despite these difficulties, Walker had the advantage of a black middleclass upbringing, which supported and stimulated the writer in the making.

She was a major influence on Walker’s work in her use of folklore to articulate the African American female experience. ”48 From the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, Walker saw how to use folk speech patterns to give voice to those historically silenced and to make social comments on African American life and culture. Nonetheless, Walker’s use of dialect shows that she went beyond a mimetic response to Hurston’s works. Walker, as James E. Spears notes, “is a dialectologist in the strictest sense of the word, and her use of eye dialect for characterization is both accurate and effective.

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