Analysis of “After You My Dear Alphonse”
“After You My Dear Alphonse” is a short story written by Shirley Jackson. It was first printed in 1943 in The New Yorker. The story takes place in the kitchen of a white American mother, about the same time as it is written. The only characters who appear in the text are the mother (Mrs. Wilson), her son Johnny and Johnny’s new black friend Boyd. The protagonist in this story is Mrs. Wilson. It is also a third person narrator from her point of view. The fact that the mother is white and Boyd is black is an important factor considering this story, as the story is about the prejudices of white people towards black people.
When Johnny brings Boyd home with him, the first thing Mrs. Wilson notices is that he is black.
As she turned to show Boyd where to sit, she saw he was a Negro boy, smaller than Johnny but about the same age. His arms were loaded with split kindling wood. (p.1, ll 32, 35)
Her first impression of Boyd is a little black boy, smaller than her own son, even though they are the same age, carrying more wood than he can, standing next to Johnny, who is not helping him. She immediately gets flash backs to back when slavery was legal.
“Johnny,” she said, “what did you make Boyd do? What is that wood?”(p. 1, ll 37, 39)
“You shouldn’t let Johnny make you carry all that wood. Sit down now and eat lunch, both of you.” “Why shouldn’t he carry the wood, mother? It’s his wood. We got it at his place.” “Johnny,” Mrs. Wilson said, “go on and eat your lunch.” (p. 1, ll 45, 54)
Mrs. Wilson is quite friendly towards Boyd, however she tries to make him fit into her picture of how a black family is, and jumps to the conclusion that they are poor, living under low standards, that Boyd has a lot of siblings and that his farther must have a tiresome job.
“Boyd’s sister is going to work, though. She’s going to be a teacher.” “That’s a fine attitude for her to have, Boyd.” Mrs. Wilson restrained an impulse...
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