“The Welcome Table” engages the reader in inter-racial issues from a sociological and moral perspective that is brought to life in the symbolism and point of view. The author uses such colorful words that it allows the reader to actually embrace the feelings of the character.
The theme of “The Welcome Table” is when I get to heaven. The very beginning of the story talks about everything the old lady is going to do when she gets to heaven: I’m going to sit at the Welcome Table
Shout my troubles over
Walk and talk with Jesus
Tell God how you treat me
One of these days! (Alice Walker, 1970)
What is the welcome table? The welcome table is a place where it does not matter who you are or what you have, your color or your sex; it is okay to come on in. Shout my troubles over; I no longer have to deal with the foolishness it is over Walk and talk with Jesus: He is the ultimate, sharing with him everything Tell God how you treat me: I am concern about how your children (Christians) are treating me. One of these days: When I come home with you. (Heaven)
The beginning of the story is a perfect example of symbolism. Symbolism is something that stands for or represents something else. There were several good examples of symbolism in this story. “Under the old woman’s arm they placed there hard fist (which afterward smelled of decay and musk—the fermenting scent of onion skins and rotting greens). The words the author uses actually jump from the page to your nostrils. I could smell the aroma of musk as I read that part of the story.” When they passed by her house, forlorn and sagging, weather beaten and patched”. (The Welcome Table) It sounds as though the house is in horrible condition, and I can see it in my imagination. The story was told in third person omniscient. Omniscient is when the story is being told by someone who is not a character but knows the thought and feeling of the characters in the story. Clugston, R.W. (2010). Every little thought the old lady had was revealed in the way the story was told. “ The old woman stood at the top of the steps looking about in bewilderment.” (The Welcome Table)
As I was reading the story it became clear to me that the disappointment that the old woman encountered was not from that particular day but through life. That day was just the icing on the cake. The story was very good to me, I love how Alice Walker (author) made the words on the page grab you and become real inside your imagination. The setting also plays a role in how the story was told. It lets us know the story took place in a time when black people and white people stayed in their perspective places. It would not be heard of for a black person to attend a white church. I think the old woman knew that death was close and at that point it did not matter where she worshipped, I think making it to heaven was the most important thing to the old woman.
I think she always heard that life would be different on the other side. The Welcome Table was a story that dealt with inter-racial issues from a sociological and moral perspective. There were something’s that could have been avoided speaking from a moral point of view such as: what would it hurt if the old lady was allowed to come inside the church and worship. What would it have really hurt? Some idea that the Holy Church would be desecrated if a black face was allowed among all the whiteness or was it shear fear of how the old lady might behave? Why did they feel so right in throwing someone out of God’s house, maybe they needed to find God for themselves? It seemed cruel but it was a blessing in disguise, which was probably the best thing that could have happened to her. If she had stayed in the church she would have never saw Jesus because it was apparent that he was not there.
A.WALKER, (1970) THE WELCOME TABLE
Clugston, R.W. (2010) Journey into Literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education Inc.