Analysis of Alice Walker's short fictional story, "Nineteen Fifty-five"
Alice Walker's short fictional story, "Nineteen Fifty-five", revolves around the encounters among Gracie Mae Still, the narrator, and Traynor, the "Emperor of Rock and Roll." Traynor as a young prospective singer purchases a song from Mrs. Still, which becomes his "first hit record" and makes him rich and famous. Yet, he does not "even understand" the song and spends his entire life trying to figure out "what the song means." The song he sings seems as fictional as certain events in this story, but as historical as Traynor's based character, Elvis Presley.
On one hand, the narrator chronologically describes historic events, which occurred during Elvis's life. Starting in 1955 when Traynor, just like Elvis, at age sixteen, started his career as a singer. Moreover, the narrator describes Traynor similarly to the way Elvis looked as a young boy, "about five feet nine, sort of womanish looking, with real dark and white skin and a red pouting mouth" with "black and curly" hair. Also they both appeared to look "like a Loosianna creole" and from south Louisiana. In the south, equally to Traynor, Elvis grew up around African people where he "learned to sing and dance." One year later in 1956 Traynor, performs on "channel 5" and like Elvis starting getting high around this time "looking half asleep from the neck up, but kind of awake in a nasty way from the waist down." Furthermore, when Elvis performed he would do the same "nasty little jerk" Traynor did, which fans screeched and screamed over.
During 1957, the narrator points out that Traynor gave her a Cadillac in appreciation for selling him her song. Elvis did not give a Cadillac specifically to Mrs. Still, but he used to give Cadillacs as gifts to people. By 1960, Traynor became known as the "Emperor of Rock and Roll" and Elvis coincidently as the "King of Rock and Roll." Also, both Elvis and Traynor began gaining weight from making "all those dumb movies." Then later both get drafted into the army and stationed in Germany.
Eight years later, in 1968 when Traynor visits Mrs. Still, she describes him appearing drunk, "waddling up the walk." Around this time Elvis became abusive with drugs and alcohol seeming depressed, needing "some encouraging", just as Traynor did. Also, like Traynor, Elvis appeared "plump" and always wearing about "ten necklaces, two sets of bracelets and at least a ring on every finger" with "some kind of shining buckles on his shoes." Then, in 1977, the same year that Elvis died coincidently, Traynor does as well. Also, their death caused the public to go on a "crying rampage", and had questionable causes of death, "some said fat, some said heart, some said alcohol, some said drugs."
On the other hand, the narrator adds fictional events revolving around her and Elvis's life. Beginning in 1955, when she sold Traynor, the historic based character of Elvis, one of her songs....