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Analysis of Themes of Race and Age and Class: in the Short Stories Sharing , Drinking Coffee Elsewhere and Along the Frontage Road

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What ties these three stories together is the interactions between two different race groups and how the perspectives are seen in the narrator’ s own race color. The first story involved an interaction between a white woman and a black man who were both neighbors. The second story involved two racially-different groups of school girls in a summer camp. The third involved a father and son meeting another father and son. What is truly interesting is seeing how race motivates perspective and voice, in such a huge degree. One can see, for example, the self-consciousness of the narrator in the first story – so conscious of the difference in race, so struggling to be proper and politically-correct then catching herself when she behaves inappropriately.

An example of this is when she mistakenly gave her neighbor sink water instead of cold water from the fridge. What is interesting in the story is not what is actually said between them, but the thought processes in the mind of the narrator, the white suburban woman. It is clear that she was surprised by the visit, but also quite pleased and eager at what she thinks is a new friendship that she has formed.

She is also unsure about her actions and obviously self-conscious because she has never been up close with a black man before. There was even a short sentence on how her playful mind flirted with the idea of the mayonnaise being used as a sexual tool – a reference, perhaps, to the illicitness of interracial sex in suburban America. But in the end, there is some sort of realization about how people are all the same way: carrying the same heartbreaks, being in need of friends or at least company, depending on the family as an anchor for one’ s life.

While the friendship of the woman was in a sense rejected by the man (he said he was moving to another town), the story ended with greater understanding on both sides. In the second story, the racial differences are explored in a more overt way, and one can see how the perspective of the narrator matters. In this story, the narrator described the physical qualities of the white girls, describing their hair for example as shampoo-commercial hair.

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