Racism in Short Stories

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Racism in Short Stories

By | March 2007
Page 1 of 4
Racism in Short Stories
by john
This is an essay i wrote for English Literature. My examples are from two short stories ‘The Test', and ‘After You My Dear Alphonse'. A Race is a population of humans distinguished from other humans. The most noticeable way to distinguish between races is by skin colour. In a white patriarchal society, like ours, race is used as a point of difference and discrimination to create power differences. ‘The Test' and ‘After You My Dear Alphonse' both challenge the legitimacy of this differentiation and thus the discrimination associated with it. ‘The Test' by Angelica Gibbs, was written in the 1940s and bluntly shows how African-American people were treated at this time, and would have caused much controversy among the ignorant middle class reading the story. ‘After You My Dear Alphonse' (‘Alphonse'), by Shirley Jackson, was written in the same era as ‘The Test'. This story shows how naturalised the stereotypes of African-Americans were then, and also how racial attitudes were influenced by parents and society. Both of these stories challenge the representation of the African-Americans in America at the time.

These stories were written in the 1940s. At this time there had been no action for the rights of the marginalised Negro society in America, and the naturalised stereotypes revolved around particular engrained views of ‘Blacks'. Particularly in ‘Alphonse', we can see this point where Mrs Wilson cannot seem to accept that Boyd and his family are socio-economically equal to her white family. One example is where Mrs Wilson is offering Boyd Johnny's old clothes. He is surprised and declines, saying that his family usually just buy what they need. This is an attempt by Mrs Wilson to make her family "charitable" and thus appear better than the Negro family. At this point she still cannot comprehend that Boyd's family have enough money to sustain an equal lifestyle to her own, and that they are equals. The stereotypes mentioned...