This literature review is from Alice Walker’s short fictional story, “Nineteen Fifty-five”. The book revolves around the life of Gracie Mae and Traynor (Andy, Nineteen fifty five, fiction and fact 17). Using these two characters, Walker shows the differences that existed at the time. Such include the rich and the poor, gender differences, man or woman as well as differences in color, black and white. In the story, Gracie is black while Traynor is white. Alice Walker also shows the reader differences in status whereby some people are poor, and others rich.
As we see, Traynor buys a song from Gracie Mae. He performs the song so well that it marks his getting into stardom. The song becomes a hit record. It makes Traynor rich and famous. However, he never comes to understand the meaning of the words in the song. He dies oblivious of what the song meant. Gracie Mae is poor, yet strong, committed to community work and kind hearted. She guides people in her community and inspires them. Gracie Mae is aging while Traynor is young. The two develop closeness as the story progresses. At first, it is hard for them to become close, but later, they become close friends. Traynor is a young man, from a humble background. He learns to sing and dance. His interest and talent in music makes him buy the song from Gracie. However, he confesses that despite making a lot of money from the song, he does not have a single idea what the song is bout. He says “I've sung it and sung it, and I'm making forty- thousand dollars a day offa it, and you know what, I do not have the faintest notion what that song means.” He tries hard to understand the song.
Both Traynor and Gracie are struggling on weight. Gracie has been having weight issues throughout her life. However, she has learnt to appreciate herself. She does not think that he weight affects anyone, her kids included. She works on her talent, singing instead of thinking about people’s opinion towards her (Andy, Nineteen fifty five, fiction and fact 17).
However, there’s a sharp contrast when we look at Traynor. As the story progresses, Traynor gains weight He eventually dies. The story is inspirational. Gracie goes through a hard time as a Black woman. She has come a long way. This means that rich people do not have to be happy. Traynor becomes wealthy owing to Gracie Mae’s song. However, he lacks her sense of pride.
Walker chooses to make Gracie mae African American. The reason for this is to present a setting of hardship and pain. This primarily characterizes the life of African America’s in the 1950s. The society is quite conservative at the time. Whites discriminate the African Americans. They are poor people. As an African American, for Gracie she cannot enjoy equal privileges as the whites. Gracie Mae is an African America. She is extremely talented. She composes a song that Traynor performs earning him praise and riches. However, this does not make him understand the meaning of the song. This is irony at its best. However, Gracie Mae loves herself. She feels okay about her looks. Despite having weight all her life, she is confident and kind hearted. She inspires people to appreciate themselves despite what other people think about them. The fact that she is content makes her work hard on her career. She composes and sings songs. She concentrates on making her future and not thinking about people. She is a determined and ambitious woman (Michael $ Lex p 67).
Traynor is a white man. Walker makes him white so as to present a difference of race and origin. The whites lived more comfortable lives than the whites. The government gave more regard to them, respected and treasured them. Alice Walker wants to present a situation of poor blacks and rich whites. At this time, racial segregation was at its best. The fact that he is white means he is better positioned in the society. He has the support of government and other whites. Nobody can discriminate against him, unlike blacks. He is also in a better position to be successful than any black. There is a lot of discrimination at the time. Whites regard Africans as weak. Walker also wants to emphasize that differences always exist in the society. Using a white, Traynor different from a black, Gracie presents a contrasting arrangement. The former is in a better position in the society than the former. However, we later come to see that Gracie is more empowered. In spite of being black, she appreciates her roots and culture. She also appreciates herself despite having a lot of weight. Here, we derive the lesson that racial differences should not create notable issues in individuals. People should work hard to be what they want to be. The fact that Gracie is black does not keep her from dreaming. She is an inspiration to many people. Using a white man also presents a case of poor and rich. Gracie is poor, Traynor is rich. However, she is happier than Traynor, who is not content the whole of his life (Michael $ Lex pg. 98). He keeps going to Traynor for help. He wants to understand what meaning is in the song that earned him so much fame. However, he dies before he gets to know the truth.
Gracie is a poor woman. She is black. Many blacks are poor at the time due to racial discrimination. She is a poor person as we can see what happens to her song. She sells it to Traynor, who has money to buy the song. She does not have to be rich. She believes that happiness comes from within. She lives a humble life, always wanting to help the community. Being rich cannot make her happier. She is happy already. She feels that kindness is the most crucial thing in life, no wonder she practices it. Gracie does not disclose to Traynor the meaning of her song. It remains a secret. In spite of all the money he had, Traynor dies dissatisfied.
Traynor is a rich man. He values his riches. Being rich is crucial to him since he thinks it is the avenue to happiness. He buys Gracie a lot of gifts, a car, a house and other presents. The reason why he does all this is so that he can extract information from Gracie regarding the content of her music. However, he does not get this. Finally, he dies a unsatisfied man. Being rich makes Traynor mean and sly. He is so cunning that he only goes to Traynor so as to benefit. His riches make him to lose values.
The story summarizes the quote, “Money cannot buy you happiness” We see the rich white man, desperate despite all the fame and money. On the other hand, Gracie mae is happy despite the fact that she is poor and black. Life is about happiness. Every person should strive to be happy. No matter what she goes through; suffering, discrimination and poverty, Gracie maintains her personality. She helps people. She inspires people to feel contented. The story is an eye opener. People should focus on things that make them happy. This includes careers, family and being kind. They should not give up morals just because of money.