There is much to admire about Alice Walker’s memoir essay “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self,” but I’d like to draw your attention specifically to the some of the ways she creates structural cohesiveness. Note for example, the way she uses markers. Markers are those phrases or lines that mark time and/or place. Often they are placed at the beginning of sentences. Some examples:
“It is a bright summer day in 1947.”
“It is Easter Sunday, 1950.”
Often, Walker uses age as a structural element:
“I am two-and-a-half years old.”
“I am eight years old and a tomboy.”
You’ll note, she does this throughout, uses age to help us move through time, without getting lost. Also, think how she uses clothes as a means of helping us see the child she was throughout. These descriptions of clothing are another cohering element. Another such element is her use of repetition: all the “You did not change,” they say’s and the “I remember’s.” (We’ll return to these “I remember” moments with your exercise for Thursday).
She uses foreshadowing early on with the line, “It was great fun being cute. But then one day it ended.” In that line we are introduced to the issue of change, and that theme becomes another binding element. It is this idea of change, or Walker’s coming to acceptance of her eye’s appearance that pulls the whole essay together and brings it to its natural conclusion.
What else is admirable about this essay? For your Response #1,discuss some of the other elements you see working in the essay. What moments were you most drawn to? What does the essay make you think make you think about from your own childhood? Remember to shoot for 200-400 words. Feel free to also respond to other’s posts.
To post, simply click on “comments” above. I encourage you to draft first on a Word page, and then copy and paste. Please proofread before posting.