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Short Story Analysis

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Introduction

After you, my dear Alphonse By: Adam Breitkopf "After you, my dear Alphonse" is a short story written by Shirley Jackson for the 'New Yorker' in 1943. The story was very popular at the time and explored many problems that the people faced in society at the time, racism. It had a very straightforward theme; don't make assumptions on how someone looks. "After you, me dear Alphonse" is about a young boy named Johnny and his friend, named Boyd, who he brought home one afternoon for lunch. Boyd is in fact African-American. Johnny's mum, who is known only as Mrs. Wilson, has just finished baking gingerbread for lunch when she yells out for Johnny to come inside and eat. Johnny brings along his friend Boyd as well. Upon Mrs. Wilson meeting Boyd she realises that he is African-American, and then her attitude changes. ...read more.

Middle

You don't work", ultimately pointing out that she doesn't work either. This positions the reader to think that Mrs. Wilson can't comprehend that a Negro family is in fact just as socially and economically successful as her own, and it starts to show her predjudice. Johnny shares information on Boyd's sister, saying that she is becoming a teacher, "Boyd's sister's going to work though, and she's going to be a teacher". Immediately Mrs. Wilson displays extreme condescension. "Mrs. Wilson restrained the urge to pat Boyd on the head". This gives the reader the feeling that Mrs. Wilson is a very jealous woman and that she thinks because Boyd is a Negro that his family were delinquents and never applied themselves to anything. The two boys continue to talk and eventually Boyd teases Johnny that he can run faster than Johnny. ...read more.

Conclusion

"After you, me dear Alphonse" is mainly told in dialogue with the use of direct and indirect speech. The story hardly uses any figurative language although the rare use of alliteration with the characters repeats the sentence "After you, my dear Alphonse". The story's setting is purely domestic and is a good example of how the subtle pervasiveness of racism may not result in outright violence and murder but can be equally harmful. During the story Mrs. Wilson cannot even understand the insinuation that she has on Boyd as he is young and has not yet come to realize these problems nor have they conformed to society's biases and conventions. Mrs. Wilson assumed because Boyd was black that he was poor and would never be successful. In the end she insulted Boyd by being presumptuous and trying to give him handouts. The moral of the story: don't judge and make assumptions by how somebody looks. ...read more.

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