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Ernest J Gaines The Sky is Gray in Madison Smartt Bell Narrative Design Gaines is an established novelist The Sky is Gray a story copyrighted in 1976 The first thing I notice about this story every time are those numbered parts Bells analysis of them on page 199 helps to explain why Gaines might number his sections This is a device more common in poetry I think the numbers enhance the developmental nature of the story As James and his mother get closer and closer to that goal they never quite reach before the storys over the numbers increase from 1 to 13 probably symbolically significant of their overall bad luck They suggest progress in a story in which progress does not seem possible With James as its narrator the story has to be told the way that James would talk So its told in dialect This is a very risky thing for a writer to do Bell is right in his note 7 on page 200 when he says that altering the spelling too much makes dialect difficult to read Some nineteenth century stories that are written in dialect make difficult demands on twentieth century readers Dialect can also come across as classist andor racist It is especially dangerous for a middle-class white writer to portray and lower-class black dialect They almost always come off stereotypical and demeaning Gaines a black man pulls it off because he keeps as close to standardized spelling even grammar as he can without losing the sound of James Louisiana dialect The dialect as well as James point of view create some humor however and I think its intended especially when he describes the setting I dont think that the humor ever benefits from stereotyping James however What do you think I should say you-all What do yalls think Notice how the beginning of the story establishes James voice the setting the situation James
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