The story is set in a wedding, a very intimate occasion. And like in any wedding, it pays particular attention to its belle, the bride.
Our bride is an African-American from Mississippi, who felt lucky enough to escape poverty by marrying a man of respectable stature; but she barely knew him, much less love. Roselily has four children, abandoned by different previous lovers, the last one she reluctantly surrendered to the father. She is so tired of being poor, working from the sewing plant with long hours, yet barely providing for her family.
She wonders how to make new roots. It is beyond her. She wonders what one does with memories in a brand-new life. This had seemed easy, until she thought of it.
Roselily longed to be free. And although it’s quite too late to ponder on it, she is not sure if marriage is the key to her longing. No doubt that her groom loves her, the fact that a Muslim man agreed to a Christian wedding and have the occasion conducted in the front porch of her house are proof of that. She weighs the advantage and security of this marriage for her children, and those children that may come after. But his religion and indifference to her kin gives her trepidation. She sees her future the same way she saw her past -with fear and submission.
She wants to live for once. But doesn’t quite know what that means. Wonders if she has ever done it. If she ever will.
A new life! Respectable, reclaimed, renewed. Free! In robe and veil.
Alice Walker provided us a short but profound insight through the consciousness of a bride. The occasion, brief as it is, is a venue of different symbolism and characterization. Her name alone stands for the contradiction in her present state. Roselily is an example of any bride taking a huge leap of faith into an unforeseeable future. She is a good example of a woman giving up her independence for a different kind of freedom, and not entirely for her own benefit, but also for those she love and accountable for. To live, principally for a black poor woman, may not exactly as a Muslim man’s wife, but it is a far better choice than having no choice at all.
Published as 1st story, In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women.
Rating: 5/5 stars