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By Ana Nunes (auth.)

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101 The fact that Vyry cannot make sense of their murmured words is an important gap in information and suggests that Walker did not want to distinguish between Grimes and Salina in this matter. The incident establishes the way mistress and overseer unite their efforts to devise the torments inflicted on the slaves; it revises the image of the plantation mistress as an angelic figure, the very incarnation of virtue, too feeble to help herself and cause harm to others. Grimes’s high opinion of Salina is an effective means of characterization, simultaneously demonstrating their separate social status and their similar “moral” conduct: “She’s a real Christian woman, a Bible-reading, honest dealing, high-quality lady who knows and acts the difference between niggers and white people.

However, the publication of Toomer’s Cane in 1923 marked, as Friederike Hajek points out, “both a recognition of the richness of black southern oral heritage and its apparent dissolution. ”46 What was surprising, however, was the manner in which Wright failed to acknowledge Hurston’s use of folklore. This might have to do with the fact that in her 34 AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN WRITERS’ HISTORICAL FICTION work Hurston recreated the vernacular to give voice to the silenced female. Wright’s concept of folklore, as H.

Such is the nightmare they inhabit that agreed-upon formulas of response are the only way forward. Thrown on their own resources, the responses are screams and groans—the minister offers form and meaning in the absence of other systems of expression. This is a chapter comprising images of death and stagnation. The characters are consigned to the immediate surroundings of Hetta’s cabin. ”93 This contrasts significantly with the Big Road before the master’s house. The slaves’ narrow path, which seems to lead to nowhere, evokes the absence of liberty, while the broad road in front of John Dutton’s residence suggests a world of possibility—the privilege of the whites.

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