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“The Sky Is Gray” by Ernest Gaines Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Apr 28th, 2021

Ernest Gaines has written a non-fictional story that has three major characters apart from him as the narrator. The three characters include Alnest, Auntie, and Dr. Bassett. Alt plays two major roles as a character. At the start, Alnest becomes an offstage voice cautioning Helena, his wife, about the cold weather. Later, he is depicted as the only sympathetic white character. Helena and Alnest are fond of issuing things for charity, which is identified as an act out of kindness. Auntie, though the main character, has a limited role in the story. On the other hand, Dr. Bassett is mostly an offstage character, and when on stage, he exists as Dr. Robillard.

The author uses first person singular voice to narrate his part as a character. For instance, he says, “I went to the kitchen and washed my face.” (Gaines 2327). There is the use of symbolism in the narration where Gaines states that “Monsieur Bayonne made the sign of the cross over and over on my jaw…” (Gaines 2325). The cross is a symbol of Christianity and depicts the death of Jesus on the cross. However, the main themes of the narrative that interconnects are the pride and poverty of the black people.

Pride is one of the elements in the narrative and appears as social behavior in today’s society. According to Ponagopoulos, pride and shame come interchangeably in people’s lives, even though it depends majorly on an individual (369). He argues that shame is more effective compared to pride and depends on an individual. However, most people feel proud when they are at a higher level because it is a better position compared to their counterparts (Wilcox, Kramer, and Sen 151). Some people, despite being poor and in a bad situation, uses their pride to show that they are satisfied with their condition.

Works Cited

Panagopoulos, Costas. “Affect, Social Pressure and Prosocial Motivation: Field Experimental Evidence of the Mobilizing Effects of Pride, Shame and Publicizing Voting Behavior.” Political Behavior 32.3 (2010): 369- 386. Print.

Wilcox, Keith, Kramer Thomas and Sen Sankar. “Indulgence or Self- Control: A Dual Process Model of the Effect of Incidental Pride on Indulgence Choice.” Journal of Consumer Research 38.1 (2011): 151- 163. Print.

Gaines, Ernest. “The Sky is Gray.” The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, 2nd Edition. Ed. Gates, Henry L, and Nellie Y. McKay. 2324- 2333. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004. Print.

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