Alice Walker on Beauty and Perception Analytical Essay by Nicky

An analysis of the creation and formation of the self in Alice Walker's "Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self".
# 151103 | 1,202 words | 0 sources | 2012 | US
Published on May 22, 2012 in Literature (American)

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The paper examines how Alice Walker's "Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self" explicitly deals with her changing sense of self in different periods of her life. The paper highlights how the story addresses the concepts of beauty--both inner beauty and external prettiness--and the way this relates to perception and reality.

From the Paper:

"The story opens with what is undoubtedly one of the author's earliest memories: she is two-and-a-half years old and is waiting for her father to choose which three of the eight children in the family will get to go to the fair. Hair brushed, shoes shined and ribbons bouncing, the toddler approaches her father: "'Take me, Daddy,' I say with assurance: 'I'm the prettiest!'." The connection between a sense of outer beauty and an internal sense of confidence is instantly apparent in the author's description of her young self. At two-and-a-half years of age, the author/narrator's conception of her inner self was based entirely on her--and others'--perception of her outer self. In a way, then, the author experienced outer beauty as an inner phenomenon, and because she knows she is pretty she comments that "it does not surprise me to find myself' on the way to the fair, "sharing the back seat with the other lucky ones."
"At this very early stage in her life, Walker's external reality is largely consistent with her perceptions of appearances, especially her own. Her inner and outer sense of beauty are also closely aligned. As the above incident clearly relates, the narrator knew--not merely felt or guessed but truly knew--that she was the prettiest, and therefore knew that she would be allowed to go to the fair. Her inner sense of confidence matched and indeed was created by her outer beauty, and her perception of the way the world worked accurately matched the realities of its machinations."

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