“After You, My Dear Alphonse”
Shirley Jackson’s story “After You, My Dear Alphonse” explains somewhere between the lines that good intentions only go so far. It’s not always enough to do what you think is best for someone because that may in fact not be the best for that specific person. In the story, Mrs. Wilson wants to be generous to Boyd, a black boy, by offering him clothes for him and his family, but she does not realize that even though he is black, he is not poor and does not need her charity. She cannot understand why he was refusing to take the clothes she offered him. Jackson shows that assuming things about another person can be a subtle, yet powerful form of prejudice. She does not realize the racism in her actions, no matter how good she thought her intentions were.
Mrs. Wilson is not the only one who thinks that way. In today’s world, there are still many people who are racist in her way and in the way presented in “Bell Hooks.” Every day, black people are treated wrongly for no reason. Some black people do not get hired for certain jobs because of their race. Some black people do badly in school because of their race. Some parents refuse to let their children hang out with black people because they associate being or looking different with dangerous. In the story, Mrs. Wilson only assumes that Boyd is poor and willingly wants to donate her family’s old clothes to him. In modern society, even though black people have gotten their rights and freedom, they are still not equal to everyone else.
I really enjoyed Shirley Jackson’s story for the main reason that I was able to learn the point of view of a stay at home white mother towards black people. In the story, however, this mother does not realize the prejudice in her actions and does not understand why the black boy does not need her charity. The author’s purpose in writing this short story was to inform us not only about her perspective, but about stereotypes as well. A...