Shirley Jackson Study Guide

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I. Introduction

a. Hook: It is not always true that with age comes wisdom.

b. Lead: In Shirley Jackson’s short stories, “Afternoon in Linen” and “After You My Dear Alphonse” it is the children who show wisdom by not acting superior to others around them.

c. Thesis: In “Afternoon in Linen” and “After You My Dear Alphonse” Shirley Jackson uses similar characterizations and irony to create this theme.

II. BP 1

a. Topic- A narrow minded person often chooses not to let in the clear facts when a thought is planted in their head.

b. Characterization: Mrs. Wilson is narrow minded

c. Examples

i. Assumes that Johnny made Boyd carry all the wood because he is African American

ii. Assumes Boyd’s father is a laborer in the factory

iii. Assumes his mother would work

iv. Assumes he does not eat well

v. Assumes he needs clothes

vi. Assumes he has many brothers and sisters

d. Concluding- Mrs. Wilson was set on the idea that because Boyd was African American he was poor. Even after being told repeatedly she was wrong she continued to push and push.

III. BP 2

a. Topic- Showing off hardly ever turns out well.

b. Characterization: Harriet’s grandmother, Ms. Lennon, is narrow minded

c. Examples

i. Talks about how her granddaughter plays all the time

ii. Gets upset when Harriet won’t play music and pushes her to read her poems

iii. Keeps pushing and pushing even when Harriet keeps denying

iv. Doesn’t realize what Harriet is doing and doesn’t care because she wants to show off so badly

d. Concluding- Ms. Lennon tried to show off Harriet but Harriet would rather be considered a plagiarist than show off.

IV. BP 3

a. Topic- When a person is convinced they are right it’s hard to persuade them otherwise.

b. Irony: Mrs. Wilson acts even worse to Boyd when she realizes he doesn’t need her help

c. Examples

i. When Boyd...
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