Reflections Of Racism As Portrayed In Short Stories

971 words - 4 pages

Reflections of Racism as Portrayed in Short Stories Racism, especially against black people, has been a tragic part of American history. It shaped the events of the past, and has molded the world in which we live in today. Not only is it evident in history, but also in the literature that we read. Novels and short stories have reflected the racism of its time.Racism is a historical fact of American life, and its early basis was the continuing attempt by one race to deny power to another race. The stories "Desiree's Baby," "A Worn Path," and "King of the Bingo Game" illustrate how power for African-Americans was non-existent at the time of "Desiree's Baby" (pre-Civil War), but very slowly increased over time until the 1940's, blacks had at least the illusion of a chance at power."Desiree's Baby" is a short story that was written in 1893, and is about a man, Armond, who is angry because the baby his wife, Deseree, has given him, is part black. He takes this as an "impurity" in his upper class bloodline, and tells Deseree to leave his life and take the baby with her. Armond is "the product of a patriarchal and racist culture, (he) insists upon a wide gap between positions of power and powerlessness" (Miner).Armond has had a so-called white upper class upbringing, and the way he treats his slaves shows that he is very prejudiced. He is very wrong in his belief, and because of him, his entire family was to suffer. Armond's ignorance fits the stereotypical view of black people of the time.The author associates the colors black and white with characters in the story. Desiree has long, silky brown hair with gray eyes, while Armond has dark skin. She wears a thin white garment and slippers. Armond's house has a black roof, which is strange for such a warm climate, and it is set in the dark shadow of great oak trees, shaded from the brightness of the sun. These symbolic uses of color foreshadow what we discover about the characters at the end."A Worn Path" was written in 1941. This short story begins by describing an old, southern black woman named Phoenix. Her physical appearance has been well described. Her skin was of a deep golden color, and was dark. "Under the red rag her hair came down on her neck in the frailest of ringlets, still black, and with an odor like copper" (216). Her hands were small, black, and freckled. She also wore a long, dark dress, and had an apron made of sugar sacks.Phoenix has an appearance that is stereotypical of an old black woman. She even had the dialect of a typical southern black. She is described as "the ancient, plodding, superstitious grandmother who talks to herself" (Barnhisel).Another example of racism is when Phoenix is walking through the woods, and is scared by a big black dog....

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