By Ana Nunes (auth.)
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Additional resources for African American Women Writers’ Historical Fiction
16 It was in her Chicago years, while working on her first book of poems, For My People, that folklore became evident in Walker’s work as a means of articulating her African American heritage. The use of folk speech and folk beliefs characterizes her poetry and constitutes the creative scaffold of her novel Jubilee. The poems of For My People, particularly those of the middle section, as Joyce Pettis observes, “reflect the oral and the folk traditions of Southern black culture. Writing in the tradition of James Weldon Johnson, Sterling Brown, and Zora Neale Hurston .
91 Granny Ticey’s reaction reveals her utter despair in relation to Hetta’s death. Her yell echoes Jake’s “terrible groan”92 and takes the place of the words they cannot articulate. On another level, it dramatizes the absurdity of the slavery system. The image of the old woman with her skirts thrown over her head, her eyes covered, running aimlessly evokes an upside-down world that has lost sense and direction. Walker presents a hellish world in ways that stress the realities that drive an old woman to the brink of madness and despair.
There were no children playing ring games before the cabins. ”58 The solemnity of the music and the image of “Sweet Chariot” are reflected in “hushed quiet” and the slow movements of the characters waiting for the inescapable: Sis Hetta’s death. ”60 The novelist constructs meaning by placing one layer of folk material upon another. The reader moves from song, to spiritual, to saying, to symbol, and to omen (evident in folklore) to grasp the significance of the episode. This black community is set within the rigid parameters of the white plantation, so SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT 37 opportunities for expression are specially constructed to reflect the experiences and limitations of the slaves.