Compare & Contrast Two Short Stories by Alice Walker

Alice Walker is an African-American writer and anthologist, best known for her novel "The Color Purple." She has penned a number of short stories, including "You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down" and "To Hell with Dying."

Comparing Alice Walker's Short Stories

Many of Alice Walker's short stories have common themes such as troubled relationships, violence and racism. Walker uses these themes as social commentaries; the themes of her short stories reflect civil issues of her time. Walker's stories examine, rather than turn away from, the darker side of human nature and relationships. Another common theme is multi-generational relationships; for example, the interactions between a mother and a daughter. In the two short stories "Nineteen Fifty-Five" and "Everyday Use," Walker uses dichotomies to emphasize social issues, such as rich versus poor. Gracie Mae in "Nineteen Fifty-Five" is a poor, black woman and so is the mother in "Everyday Use." Both women live in poverty; this poverty is emphasized by the lifestyles of the rich characters in the stories--Traynor and Dee/Wangero respectively.

Contrasting Alice Walker's Short Stories

Walker's use of language in her short fiction differs from story to story. Sometimes she chooses to use dialect in her short stories, like in the short story "Nineteen Fifty-Five." Other times, she chooses to write in standard English, for example in one of her most anthologized stories, "Everday Use." Other contrast points in Walker's short stories include the female voices she employs, strong versus weak voices, and point of view in her stories.


Comparing and contrasting Alice Walker's short stories has significant importance, both literarily and historically. Walker's works tell a great deal about social issues during the 50s through the present day--for example, the Civil Rights movement. Being able to recognize patterns and differences in her works of short fiction can help readers learn more about literature and about how the world we live in has changed.

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