This short story by W. Kelly, in its concern with family dynamics, focuses on sibling rivalry. The idea that parents can never treat all their children equally is one primary theme, but the author also conveys that all families have secrets. While Chig, the ostensible protagonist , was aware that...
This short story by W. Kelly, in its concern with family dynamics, focuses on sibling rivalry. The idea that parents can never treat all their children equally is one primary theme, but the author also conveys that all families have secrets. While Chig, the ostensible protagonist, was aware that his father was practically estranged from his family, he had never fully considered the depth of the rifts. Just when he is coming of age—Chig is seventeen in the story—he is forced to confront his father’s pain. As Charles, the father, had presented a façade of success and composure, the differences in his behavior in his mother’s home are an eye-opener for Chig.
The story’s mood is one of anxiety and frustration. Kelley conveys an extreme version of something many people often experience, the discomfort of going “home” for the holidays. Even as the mother continues to protest that she had not favored another son, GL, she speaks frequently about him and dismisses every point that Charles raises, thus further devaluing his opinions. The element of race is threaded throughout, as the family is African American and Charles is much darker than the favored brother. Although the mother aims at conciliation by telling Charles she believed him more capable than his brother and less in need of protection, to the son who feels neglected, this is no comfort.
It is important to note firstly that "A Visit to Grandmother", although it does concern itself with issues of race, was not intended to deal solely with issues of race. Kelley was vocal with the critics about how much more this story is about. It is a story about family and unity, not just black unity, but the unity and togetherness of all people, and the contribution that every individual, black or white or yellow or brown, makes to the brilliance of the world.
The mood, or tone, of the story is hopeful.