Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Kindred Spirits” is strongly informed by the dictum of the women’s movement that the personal is political. Walker’s Rosa thinks about people in her life in a historical context, both in the sense of their (and her own) place in their family’s history and in the sense of them as players in a larger process of societal change. Although revolutions serve as the backdrop of the protagonist’s consciousness, her visions of her aunt, her grandfather, and her sister are each set against a backdrop of personal or social history from which a moral or political lesson can be drawn. Her aunt’s regal demeanor belies the Jim Crow practices of racial segregation and defamation that have framed most of her adult life; her sister’s marriage raises the issue of domestic violence; and her own marriage and its dissolution raises questions about interracial relations.

The story is strongly autobiographical. Rosa is in many ways an alter ego for Walker, with the fictional persona having experiences that parallel the author’s own marriage and divorce, her child, her travels, her political concerns, and her profession. Walker uses the device of the rhetorical question implicitly and explicitly to examine the larger theme that gives her story its title: kinship. This theme is wrought through the story line of the protagonist finding bits of her own identity in her grandfather (whom she loves despite his imperfections, particularly his attitudes about women)...

(The entire section is 403 words.)

Kindred Spirits Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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.