Read the following stories in ‘A Sense of Belonging’ and write a response to the question(s) related to each story.
Who has a stronger personality? Marian or Mrs Ericson? Give evidence from the text to support your answer. Marian has a stronger personality in this story. From the very beginning we can see that within Marian is persistence and perseverance – despite failing once, she still goes ahead and tries for the test again, and despite knowing that she failed the previous time because of the examiner’s prejudice against her, she still tries again. In addition, when Mrs Ericson suggests that she “slips them a little something”, she refuses, showing that she’d rather fail with integrity than attempt to bribe the examiners – which may or may not work against her. We see that Mrs Ericson constantly attempts to look at the brighter side of things – constantly telling Marian that she will do fine, not seeming to look at possible other reasons why Marian failed the first time – even when Marian pointed out to her about the ‘mistakes’. During the test, Marian’s tolerance is tested – the inspector constantly jibes at her, stereotyping her by her ethnicity. When he asks for her age, he mentions that she was ‘old enough to have a flock of pickaninnies’. ‘Pickaninnies’ referred to children of black descent, and the usage of ‘flock’ shows that he was trying to prove black people as an inferior race, as he uses ‘flock’, which is usually used with cattle. Despite knowing that she was getting insulted as an inferior race, she kept quiet, and this can be seen as an attempt to keep one’s cool, to stay in control so that no further trouble would be caused. He also jibes at the fact that she ‘ain’t Southern’, and even the fact that she’s supposed to be unable to read – all because of her race, and Marian puts up with it well, only showing a small sign of anger, as seen at “Her voice was not quite steady.” To be able to put up with all the racial...
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