- Theory of Short Fiction (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
- Alice Walker (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
- Alice Walker (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
- Alice Walker (Dictionary of World Biography: The 20th Century)
- Alice Walker (Identities & Issues in Literature)
- Alice Walker (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
- Alice Walker (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
- Alice Walker (Women's Issues (Ready Reference series))
At a glance:
- Author: Alice Walker
- First Published: 1981
- Type of Work: Short story
- Genres: Psychological fiction, Short fiction
- Subjects: African Americans, Family or family life, New York, North America or North Americans, Northeast, U.S., United States or Americans, Parents and children, Blacks, South or Southerners, Twentieth century, New York City, Women, Death or dying, Grandparents or grandchildren, Colleges or universities, Students or student life
- Locales: United States, New York, Georgia, North America
“A Sudden Trip Home in the Spring” appears in Walker’s collection of stories You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down. The story examines a turning point in the psychological development of a black college student who has left Georgia for an exclusive northern college, a scenario reminiscent of Walker’s personal experience, and employs recurring themes of family dynamics, racism, and feminism.
Sarah Davis feels better suited to her northern home and is not pleased with the idea of going South for her father’s funeral. Her opinion of the South and of her father in particular has inhibited her growth as an artist; she cannot render black men on paper at all, not having the strength to draw what she sees as complete defeat. While she is home, however, interactions with her brother and grandfather, made more meaningful by her recent distance from them, open her eyes to her grandfather’s innate dignity and her brother’s youthful promise. Free from a single, oppressed image of all black men, Sarah feels she may now portray her grandfather in stone.
Mirroring Walker’s own diverse experiences, the story underscores the significance of recognizing the worth in one’s diversity. As Walker’s writing is influenced by everything from her sharecropper beginning to the Civil Rights movement, so Sarah’s work is broadened by reopening a door she thought closed. Sarah’s pivotal trip home allows her to see the narrowness of the northern college as well. Choosing not to allow one environment to define her gives her the freedom to define herself.
Banks, Erma Davis, and Keith Byerman. Alice Walker: An Annotated Bibliography, 1968-1986. New York: Garland, 1989.
Christian, Barbara. “Novel for Everyday Use: The Novels of Alice Walker.” In Black Women Novelists: The Development of a Tradition, 1892-1976. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980.
Lauret, Maria. Alice Walker. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.
McMillan, Laurie: “Telling a Critical Story: Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.” Journal of Modern Literature 23, no. 1 (Fall, 2004): 103-107.
Noe, Marcia. “Teaching Alice Walker’s ’Everyday Use’: Employing Race, Class, and Gender, with an Annotated Bibliography.” Eureka Studies in Teaching Short Fiction 5, no. 1 (Fall, 2004): 123-136.
Parker-Smith, Bettye J. “Alice Walker’s Women: In Search of Some Peace of Mind.” In Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation, edited by Mari Evans. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor, 1984.
Tate, Claudia. Black Women Writers at Work. New York: Continuum, 1983.
Willis, Susan. “Black Woman Writers: Taking a Critical Perspective.” In Making a Difference: Feminist Literary Criticism, edited by Gayle Greene and Coppelia Kahn. London: Methuen, 1985.
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