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A Closer Look At Like A Winding Sheet

924 words - 4 pages

In the story, Like a Winding Sheet, author Ann Petry depicts a tale of a hard working man and his internal battle with anger, self-realization and the daily woes of being black in America. At the end of the story his wife, Mae Johnson, becomes the recipient of the anger Johnson has held so. close to him. Through symbolism, style, and mood, Petry allows the character to embrace the world around them, leaving me questioning the subject of violence, racial discrimination, and hate. Although Like a Winding Sheet is a short story, it bears witness to a generation of men, who during this time, had very little voice and power
In the story, Like a Winding Sheet, symbolism was used as ...view middle of the document...

Red, once a color meant for passion, now becomes a symbol of hate.
As for style, from the very beginning, Petry is very descriptive about where her story takes place. This allowed her to present issues without being too evasive. An example of this can be seen when the workplace of Johnson is described not necessarily through colors or objects, but through a concept of being trapped by the never ending cycle of life. Not only did adding layers of details to the story provide for an interesting read, but was very important because it carried a message that a system, no matter what it is, could start with one person but other factors play a strong role leading to the outcome. I believe the use of symbolism and style for Like a Winding Sheet goes hand in hand. This is why Petry made a point to present an event and the characters thought process immediately afterwards.
According to the University of Minnesota’s Voices from the Gap, Petry grew up in middle class African American family and although her parent did what they could to protect her from racial injustice, she still experienced some as a child. Perhaps this anger is something Petry and Johnson share in common. In a way, I feel that through mood, she was able to drill home the point that there is only so much one could handle before breaking down and hurting those who are loved the most. As the story went on, it was almost like there was a physically feeling of a sheet winding with tension every time Johnson was dealt a difficult situation. He wanted to release his anger; he wanted something...

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