Comparison and Contrast of Two Stories Essay

Comparison and Contrast of Two Stories

            Alice Walker’s story entitled “Everyday Use” and Eudora Welty’s story entitled “A Worn Path” are representations of parenthood. These two stories showed the unconditional love for their children in different ways and forms. The persona in Walker’s story is the character of the mother. While in Welty’s story, she used a third person point of view to illustrate the character and the whole story. These two stories have their similarities and differences in terms of style, setting, character development, and writer’s tone. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to justify the similarities and differences of the two stories as they unravel the deeper meaning and essence of the whole narrative.

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The setting of the story “A Worn Path” showed the streets where the protagonist passes by. She needs to go to the clinic to get some medicines for her grandson. She needs to travel for hours to be able to make her grandson survive. It was her weekly routine so even if she is tired, she stored her strength and releases it once she needs it. “On she went. The woods were deep and still. The sun made the pine needles almost too bright to look at, up where the wind rocked. The cones dropped as light as feathers. Down in the hollow was the mourning dove—it was not too late for him (Welty 65).” The author described the places where the protagonist surpasses. Like the way she described the character in the story, she already depicts the detailed setup of the locations where the old woman goes.

On the other way around, the story “Everyday Use” discussed the setting of the narrative in a constant place – the house of the narrator. Unlike Welty, Walker made the house the significant place where the conflict, climax, and resolution emerged and developed. “I have deliberately turned my back on the house. It is three rooms, just like the one that burned, except the roof is tin; they don’t make shingle roofs any more. There are no real windows, just some holes cut in the sides, like the portholes in a ship, but not round and not square, with rawhide holding the shutters up on the outside (445).” Welty conveyed her setting in normal and more accurate way because the setting has only one part – the house. While in Walker’s story, she developed the setting in different parts and situations because the old woman travels. Therefore, there is no consistency in the setting of the story. However, despite of it, Walker thoroughly described and defined each situation and location in a detailed and creative manner.

The narrator of “A Worn Path” illustrated the setting from the start of the story. She established the location to form the characterization of the protagonist. The narrator did not hide the character’s name. She already defines the persona physically, mentally, and emotionally. “Her name was Phoenix Jackson. She was very old and small and she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows, moving a little from side to side in her steps, with the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grand-father clock (64).” It was seen that the conflict does not lie within the protagonist’s character but the way she handled things around her. It is also a developing construction of oldness and weakness. However, despite of these two aspects, the author justified the irony and parallelism of oldness and hastiness, weakness and struggle. Welty described the oldness of the character as she also depicts the hastiness of Phoenix’s mind. Despite of her weakness, she struggled to obtain her goal in her journey – to get medicine for her grandson.

On the other hand, Walker’s story did not give the mother a name. Because she is the protagonist of the story, her perception and perspective is important to the story’s development. “In real life I am a large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands. In the winter I wear flannel nightgowns to bed and overalls during the day. I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man. My fat keeps me hot in zero weather (Walker 444).” It was seen her quality as an individual and a mother to her children. However, even if she has portrayed her character as an individual with power and strength over her two daughters, she remained weak and unleashed due to her few inabilities because of financial circumstances. Unlike in Welty’s story, Walker did not provide her character’s personality and own individuality. She was only depicted as a mother and not as a woman with certain desires for her own self

            In terms of writer’s tone, Welty used formal and deep tine while Walker used light and soft tone. Because Welty used a third person point of view, she needs to use words that have no feelings or emotions so that the protagonist’s emotions would not sink. “Phoenix heard the dogs fighting, and heard the man running and throwing sticks. She even heard a gunshot. But she was slowly bending forward by that time, further and further forward, the lids stretched down over her eyes, as if she were doing this in her sleep (67).” In Walker’s story, because she used the character of the mother as the narrator of the narrative, there are full of emotions that can be felt. In reading the “Everyday Use,” the readers could attach their selves to the situation because it is the mother who is narrating the story. “Maggie smiled; maybe at the sunglasses. But a real smile, not scared. After we watched the car dust settle I asked Maggie to bring me a dip of snuff. And then the two of us sat there just enjoying, until it was time to go in the house and go to bed (449).” Readers can also feel the emotions of the character directly in Walker’s story unlike in Welty’s story.  In Welty’ story, the tone is more on the formal situation because of the attack of the author towards the character and setting. It is also a depiction of seriousness that Walker’s story does not incorporate. The narrator in “Everyday Use” showed her character and her children’s character in a lighter attack so that it would be easier to understand.

            When it comes to the style of the story, both of them focused on the narrative part of the story rather than the dialogues. The dialogues only serve as the justifications of the authors’ claims but not as a definite composition of the story as a whole. Both Welty and Walker are similar when it comes to style because they have shown their character as women of the society and their families. They have discussed the ways on how a woman showed her live towards her family despite of her weakness, oldness, deprivation, and discrimination. It was also seen that physical and environmental incapacities does not hinder the character’s responsibilities and obligations towards their loved ones. This is the style and form of attack of the authors in their story. Even if they are simple, they create important significations of womanhood in the society.

Works Cited

Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” pp. 443-449, 1973

Welty, Eudora. “A Worn Path.” pp. 64-69, 1941

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