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Outline the theme of imprisonment as it relates to the short story "Beauty: When the...

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starlight12 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted August 21, 2010 at 3:45 AM via web

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Outline the theme of imprisonment as it relates to the short story "Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 21, 2010 at 8:39 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that one can draw much in way of imprisonment in Walker's memoir.  The imprisonment that arises is one that asks why one is the way they are.  There was little imprisonment when Walker was considered to be "the prettiest."  The imprisonment happens when the last thing she remembers seeing is the tree and its branches.  From this moment until when her daughter makes her aware of the "world in her eye," Walker struggles against the rage inside her.  This comes from no longer being "the prettiest," but it might also emerge from the fact of being considered "different."  Prior to the accident, Walker might have very well been "the prettiest," but in a larger sense, she was socially accepted.  People clamored over her, father chose her to go the the fair, and others thought her to be "the cutest."  It was only after the accident that she became marginalized, to a great extent.  It was the physical deformity of her eye that relegated her to being on the fringes, where she was called a "one eyed bitch" and where she became the target of others' scorn.  It was here where Walker was imprisoned by this social order and the collision between both realities, one of supposed liberation with the new reality of being alienated, happens.  This makes sense to a great extent, especially in light of what the doctor said about eyes in that when one goes blind, the other will, as well.  This brings out the imprisonment that she experiences.  Once the corrective surgery is done, Walker goes back to be beautiful, "glamorous or whatever," but the imprisonment still is there in trying to reconcile the past vision of wholeness and the disfigured alienation that happened later on in her life.  When she dances at the end to the Stevie Wonder song, it is the moment where imprisonment has ended, the warring factions are set to rest in their unified presence in that both are Walker, both narratives are her, and she is both of them.  Imprisonment has given way to unity and symmetry.

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