The topic of racial interrelationships is very popular in the world’s modern literature. The famous writers from the South African Republic Nadine Gordimer (Country Lovers) and Alice Walker from the United States (The Welcome Table) vividly depicted the racial interrelationships in their works. Though the authors are from the different countries, the problems of racial interrelations remain pressing issues in the world nowadays. Although, the both works are different by the context, but they compliment each other in depicting the above mentioned problem and raise the issue whether sin is a crime.
The whole tragedy of main characters of the both stories lies in the fact that they are women with non-white color of skin. Thus, both an old woman from The Welcome Table and a young woman Thebedi from Country Lovers are doomed to failure in life. Although they live in different countries, but white people’s attitudes to them are similar. They both the old woman and Thebedi do not commit a crime and do not offend anybody from white people. Their single reason to be demonized is that they live among white people. In order to answer the main question whether sin is a crime in racial segregation, it is necessary to consider the contents of the both stories.
The main character of Country Lovers is a young non-white girl by the name of Thebedi living in South Africa. She used to go to school with white children. They live in the same village, go to the same school, and are taught by the same teachers. Moreover, the same teachers teach as white children, so black ones to be kind, wise, and clever. Thebedi was happy at that time because she did not feel any impact of the notorious Immorality Act of 1950 stipulated sexual relations between people of different colors of their skins. When she became adult, Thebedi was prohibited to meet with white young people according to the above mentioned Act.
Thebedi has a class-mate. It is a white boy Paulus. He is a farmer’s son. Thebedi and Paulus saved their friendly relations. They continue meeting behind their parents’ backs. It happens that they fall in love with each other and had a sleep together. As a result, Thebedi becomes pregnant. Her parents decide to give her in marriage to a black youth. In two months after the wedding, Thebedi gives birth to a boy with a light skin.
Paulus has nothing to do but decides to kill the child in order to justify his public image. Thus, Paulus became a murderer of his own son. In spite of all, the death of the child was considered as the natural one. The court acquits him for lack of evidence. Thus, Paulus was not a criminal as if the crime would not have been committed by him. It is necessary to analyze the entire problem from the very beginning in order to define where the sin has taken its rise.
Of course, the young people committed a sin while meeting behind their parents’ backs, which led to Thebedi’s pregnancy. It happened by the single reason – the Immorality Act. Of course, if that notorious Act would not have been admitted, Paulus and Thebedi had not committed the sin. They would have met in broad daylight and have been married according to the Christian traditions. The apartheid made a criminal from Paulus because in order to justify his public image stipulated by the Act, he killed his own son. Of course, he was a criminal. If white persons are considered as a high race, then why did white youth Paulus commit such a crime? According to the apartheid policy, he should have had an irreproachable behavior and would have never committed a crime. Moreover, he did commit a murder of his own son, and the white court justified him.
In The Welcome Table, Walker depicts a fate of an old Afro-American woman in the United States. Walker did not give names to her characters deliberately. She makes the readers think of the story about human sin because everybody can occur on the place of the characters depicted in the story. Thus, the old Afro-American woman comes to pray in the Christian church for white people. She considers to be treated the same way as in the Christian church for Afro-American people. Meanwhile, the white women expelled her from the church with the help of their husbands for color of her skin.
Of course, it is a sin. The white people broke Christian principles in the Christian church. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ expelled Pharisees from the Church for their hypocrisy. In this case, the white women are shown as hypocrites denying help to the suffering hungry old woman. Furthermore, they induced their husbands to commit a sin in the Church by expelling the Christian woman from there.
It is necessary to mention that Christian religion put an end to the slave-owning system in the world. According to Christianity, God created human beings by His appearance. Thus, to enslave people is to commit a sin before God. Moreover, Christian principles envisage fraternal relationships among people irrespective of their material circumstances. Abolition in the United States in the 19th century was the consequence of wrong treatments of the Bible by Christians at that time.
Nobody watched God. Nobody including Porter can describe Him, but it is clear that God will not deny help to persons in need. He is justice for everybody irrespective of the color of skin as it depicts Walker in her story. God judges for deeds. Thus, the soul of the old woman meets God despite her taking a picture of Jesus from the church.
There is a question connected with the last: would it be a sin to take something from the church? Of course, it would if it is a theft. In the story, it is not a theft because it is difficult to call the described building as a church and people as Christians. Moreover, they denied help to the Christian in need, the old Afro-American woman. It is difficult to say that picture of God was so precious thing for those white people because they do not think highly of Christian principles. They would have had to give the old woman not only the picture of God, but also some money to buy some food. They would have had to bring her at home to feed and heat.
The white people did not do that. Moreover, they hate the old woman. Thus, it is difficult to call them as Christians. Moreover, it was not a sin to take a picture of God from the building where white people commit sins before His image. Thus, the old woman took the God’s image belonging to every Christian from Pharisees driven from the Christian Church by Jesus Christ in due time. Of course, it was a crime, from the point of view those who expelled her. At the same time, she does not hamper the white pagans of something cherished by them because their souls were shut for God. Moreover, she saves the God’s image from antichristian deeds of the white people.
In the case of Paulus, it is necessary to mention that his deeds contradict Christian principles from the very beginning.
Of course, Paulus understood all consequences. Moreover, he knew that he would never marry Thebedi. Moreover, he acted like pagans going to bed with Thebedi before the wedding. Though it is not considered as a sin among non-Christian native people, Paulus would have had to think a lot in order not to commit the sin with Thebedi. Actually he did not love Thebedi. It was a passing fad in the shape of the infatuation with Thebedi. Paulus even does not struggle for his love. Moreover, he acts like a vulgar scoundrel from a viewpoint of atheists, as well. He leaves Thebedi like a used thing. Moreover, he commits the murder and does not confess his crime. The society does not consider him guilty despite all evidence of the murder. If Paulus had been a black man, he would have been sentenced for the murder. Thus, his sins are not considered as crimes because Paulus is white.
Upon analyzing the both stories, we must come to the conclusion that the both authors depict apartheid and condemn brutality and hypocrisy of racial discrimination.
The notion of welcome table means a table for the Last Supper. It is a symbol of Christianity, where Christians go to eat bread as Christ’s flesh and drink wine as Christ’s blood, and at the same time, the welcome table is a bountiful table in the Heaven. It is symbolic that there was no such a welcome table in the church for white people. Moreover, the old woman was expelled from there in spite of love and forgiveness, which are confessed by all Christians as a main principle.
In the Country Lovers, the white Christian hypocrisy is depicted as more personal. Thus, the readers see Paulus’ love for Thededi, how he betrays her and kills his own son to save himself from a trial according to the Immorality Act. His hypocrisy is selfish. In order to disguise his sin, Paulus commits the murder of his own newborn son. Moreover, he does not repent his sins. Meanwhile, in The Welcome Table, the hypocrisy is more generalized.
The both authors describe the poverty of black people in their stories as the blame to apartheid. Thus, in The Welcome Table, the white people in the church do not see an old woman in need.
Country Lovers is written differently from The Welcome Table. Gordimer describes in details relationships between characters during years. Readers watch all changes in relations between Thebedi and Paulus. They cannot but feel empathy for Thebedi in the court despite she was a party to Paulus’ murder. Of course, they accuse Paulus in the murder equitably as well as in his betrayal. At the same time, Gordimer concentrates her readers on the court and reports in newspapers concerning the criminal case at the end of the story. The act in The Welcome Table continues during a day, although the dead old woman was found out on the following day. Walker’s readers do not know names of characters. Walker uses this technique in order to express a timeless of the story and give the main character a status of every Afro-American woman.
The Welcome Table is more successful in criticizing the racial segregation than Country Lovers due to using Christian parables. This shows up a fraud, mannerism, hypocrisy, and sinful of the depicted apartheid. At the same time, the Country Lovers is more successful in evidence that committing a sin is not the same as committing a crime from the point of view of adepts of the racial discrimination. Moreover, the racial approach to solve various social problems leads to a crime against a human being. Gordiner’s love story lays bare the whole meanness of the apartheid humiliating people by controlling love with the help of the legislative act.
Of course, the Christian principles of love for one’s neighbors, forgiveness and compassion fit in the best way possible to condemn the idea of the racial segregation described in the Country Lovers.