Margaret Walker American Literature Analysis
Walker called herself a “visionary” and stated that she was committed to a life as an artist for the people, especially in “the public statement poem.” Her poetry was intuitive and brooding. She intended a realism, and she succeeded to the degree that realism can be commingled with didacticism and what she named “orphic” discourse. Her poetry, her fiction, and her essays were transformations of Walker’s lyric sensibility. The poetry prophesied, witnessed, celebrated, and grieved with personal immediacy. The fiction was a distillation of her maternal family history for four generations, an apostrophe to her own ancestry as an African American. The essays were by a teacher speaking determinedly in the first person. Above all, her writing was meant to be recited, to be oral; it was made for telling, saying, and declamation, combining the forms of folk sermon and the story of common people, a proletariat, with a great deal of inventory and repetition, which roll-calls the wealth and certainty in the goals of African Americans.
Walker saw on Earth a sublime beauty of nature and a utopian potential for humankind. The natural beauty, especially of rural or small-town settings, is the frame of the history of slavery in Jubilee. The utopian potential is the closing declamation of “For My People,” which chants into possibility the end of hate and injustice and the triumph of a once-enslaved and someday morally heroic humankind. She...
(The entire section is 3002 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Margaret Walker Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!