A Visit to Grandmother
William Melvin Kelley
The Use of Dialect
The use of dialect contributes to a large portion of A Visit to Grandmother, by William Melvin Kelley. The way in which a character speaks and the words they use is known as the dialect in a story. The use of dialect helps build the characters and setting of a story, but even more, it makes the story more effective.
Characters are an important element in a short story; therefore they must be fully developed and effective to the reader. Dialect helps in forming a character and gives an indirect description of him. For instance, if a character is sad they would talk in a pessimistic, monotonous way or if a character is bright their speech would contain a varied vocabulary. Take GL as an example, he is a laid back, uneducated, and foolish character and it is shows through the use of dialect. The author made this more effective by having GL use improper speech, like where he at, and words that an educated person would not use, for example the expression rascal. In these ways, the use of dialect makes the characters in a story much more effective.
Another key element in a short story similar to A Visit to Grandmother is the setting. The use of dialect helps the reader develop the time period and location where the story takes place. The author would add effectiveness to the story by using the dialect of that time period or location of the story. For example, if the story were to take place in the Medieval era people would use a vocabulary like thou or shall and if a story was placed in an underprivileged urban area you would see the use of slang words and possibly even improper language. Grandmother is an excellent example in this story. When grandmother uses the statement them white folks ll burn us alive it indicates that it takes place during a time when African-Americans were degraded, maybe a little bit after the Civil War, and by using the terms reckon and ain t gives us a possible explanation that they are from the south. The story becomes more effective by backing up the setting with the use of dialect.
The use of dialect adds effectiveness to a story. This can help build the characters and setting, two vital elements in a story. Without the use of dialect we would surely see that a story would not be as developed or effective.