Wow, how the times have changed. Just imagine this scenario. A group of friends go out to eat at a restaurant. They walk in the establishment and a man stops them. “You all are black. You can’t be in here!”, the man says. The group of friends must leave because of the color of their skin. No one really thinks about events like this anymore because everyone today is allowed to socialize together. Authors Kate Chopin and Alice Walker were probably very familiar with this type of situation. Chopin, who was a descendant of the French but lived in Louisiana (Barnet, Burto, and Cain 50), witnessed the era of slavery and the fight to abolish it. Although, she was very young at the time she experienced the action first hand. Alice Walker, on the other hand, saw a different part of the struggle. She saw the fight for equality and also the Women’s Rights Movement. The struggles of African Americans during each of these time frames are reflected greatly in each of their writings. “Desiree’s Baby” and “Everyday Use” both give a vivid portrayal of society’s views on African Americans by showing great detail in the setting description, the attitudes of the characters, and the conflicts that the characters face.
“It was a sad looking place”, began Chopin in “Desiree‘s Baby“, to briefly describe the home of Desiree and Armand Aubigny. This description automatically sets a bleak tone for the story. The story does have pleasant times such as in the beginning. Desiree was an abandoned child whom Monsieur Valmonde found by a pillar one day. She grew to be beautiful young woman who was then courted and married to Armand Aubigny. Even though Desiree’s origin was uncertain Armand did not care. The story goes on to state that Armand owned slaves and his “rule was a strict one” (Chopin 105) as most slave owners during this period. The initial description of the Aubigny home, though, does foreshadow that there will be a twist to the perfect life the couple seems to have. It does not, however, propose that race will be the issue at the time.
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” has more insight into the homes many African American’s lived in during the early to mid 1900’s, who had not transitioned into the new era of opportunities for African Americans. “The hard clay is swept clean as a floor,” (Walker 109) “the roof is tin…There are not real windows, just some holes cut in the sides,”(Walker 110) and “rawhide holding the shutters up on the outside” (Walker 110) are all great descriptions of the home in which the mother and Maggie lived in. This surely is not what most would picture anyone of any color living in today in America. The sad part is that there are still people living in homes as described in the story, but most people do not pay them any mind.
The next observation that needs to be made of these two stories would be the attitudes of the characters. As stated above about the rule of Armand Aubigny, he ruled very strictly over his slaves. After the couple had...