Fundamental Human Experience
1) What fundamental human experience is being dealt with in this story
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The fundamental human experience that is being dealt with in the story ???1955??? is that Traynor could or would attain happiness through means of material possession and the accumulation of wealth. We see this idea develop throughout the story. In 1956 we find out that the song purchased from Gracie Mae Still for a mere $500.00 is now being performed on national television. ???Little mama, little mama, there??™s a white man on television singing one of your songs! Turn on channel 5. Lord, if it wasn??™t Traynor??? (Walker479). Traynor later returns to Gracie Mae and the first thing she notices is that ???Traynor seemed to be aging by the minute??? (480). Walker then proceeds to further describe Traynor??™s exhaustion at the Mae house by detailing his posture. ???His head was pitched forward over his lap, his hands holding his glass and his elbows on his knees??? (480). The description of how tired and unhealthy Traynor seems is immediately followed by Traynor telling Gracie Mae how much money he is accumulating off of her song. ???I??™ve sung it and sung it, and I??™m making forty thousand a day offa it, and you know what, I don??™t have the faintest notion what that song means??? (480). Traynors condition worsens as time goes on and as he becomes wealthier. Like Traynor is regressing in life, rather than progressing. Which one could find odd being that Traynor is surrounded by so much success and wealth. This regression is further substantiated in Gracie Mae??™s description of Traynor on one of his later visits. ???I had been mad, but suddenly I calmed down. Traynor was talking very dreamily. It was dark but seems I could tell his eye??™s weren??™t right. It was like something was sitting there talking to me but not necessarily with a person behind it??? (483). Traynors character consistently degenerates as his wealth accumulates. Not once to appear happy or satisfied. He even admits to hardly knowing his own wife, even most of the people around him.
2) What insight into the human condition does this story present
The insight into the human condition that this story presents is one of holding material possessions and wealth as equal to one??™s self worth and happiness. We see this throughout the story as Traynor constantly gives gifts to Gracie Mae. Nice cars, money, a chance to sing on stage, even a massive house. But not quite as big as his. Gracie refuses some of his gifts saying ???I don??™t need this??? also always implying that she is content with what she has. This is an idea that Traynor fails to grasp. Another more vague insight into the human condition is how human fallacy does not discriminate between rich and poor. Most of the novel is dedicated to showing how wealth does not equate to happiness through Traynor??™s experiences. Gracie lives a simpler, less wealthy life but is content. Walker portrays Gracie as wise and more in touch with what really matters in life when she speaks words of wisdom like ???you can??™t sleep through life if you wants to live it??? (488). And how she refuses gifts because she is content with what she has. However nearing the end of the short story we learn that Gracie Mae has also been suffering at the hands of her own perception of herself. She describes to us that ???fat is the hurt I don??™t admit, not even to myself, and that I been trying to burry it since the day I was born??? (488). The words spoken by Gracie Mae show that rich or poor being human is being human and along with that comes all of the conditions that all of us must live with.