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Brownies is a short story penned by ZZ Packer in the year 1999. The environment was a girl's camp made up of scouts from various areas. It discusses young black girls in the camp who continue to be discriminated against by white girls. As a result, the plot begins where the themes of human brutality and bigotry emerge. The black girls decide to challenge the white girls in the bathroom where a fight then breaks out. This essay aims at discussing the troop 909 characters and how the characters support the ‘Brownies’ theme.
The story is then narrated by one of the black girls in the group (Kennedy and Gioia 135). She is almost anonymous in the group since most of the other girls in the group do not appreciate her. The reason behind this could be because she contradicts almost all of the group’s actions. The story ends with the girls not fighting and instead gain a lot of knowledge about cruelty and racism (Kennedy and Gioia 148).
The story describes the troop 909 as a group of white girls. The story further describes the physical appearance of the girls saying that, “they were white girls, their complexions a blend of ice cream: strawberry, vanilla” (Kennedy and Gioia 138).The flavors in this case represented the two main themes which the girls developed. These included the theme of segregation and that of racism. The author was able to introduce the conflict from the very beginning of the story. The author also says, “whites were like baby pigeons: real and existing, but rarely seen or thought about” (packer 10).
The girls in the brownies troop are seen to be very confident and of strong mind. A good example in this case is Arnetta. She happens to be the leader of the group. She has a dominant personality which commands authority to the rest of the troop members. She also has great leadership qualities where when she stands to speak, her tone and voice command a minute of silence among the other girls (Charters 145). A good example is where she was giving a story of when they were at a mall and all people in the mall, “stared at like they’re foreigners.” The author then says, “all the girls nod in agreement” (Kennedy and Gioia 145).
She is also the one who started the conflict with the white girls where she told the troop members that she heard one of the girls in the white group call Daphne a ‘nigger’. From this point onwards, the rumor sticks and it raises a lot of conflict between the white and the black girls where the brownies demanded that the white girls pay for that crime. Arnetta also says the girls smell “like chihuahuas. Wet chihuahuas” (Kennedy and Gioia 142). She also exhibits leadership qualities through the act of coming up with a plan of attacking the white girls in the bathroom. She even gives instructions on how the plan is to be implemented (Kennedy and Gioia 146).
Those in the troop 909 are seen to be calm and also peace-loving girls. They are described in the story as the girls who were always first when it came to doing everything. This made the brownies to become hateful and jealous of the 909 troop. The author also brought out the girls in the story as those radiating beauty. The author describes their hair as that which is shampoo-commercial, long, and straight just like uncooked spaghetti (Kennedy and Gioia 143). This brought out the superiority idea in the story where the troop 909 are made to appear as though they are dominating the brownies (Short Stories for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories 14).
This supports the theme of the brownies the brownies group meets with those in troop 909 and they realize that the girls are mentally disabled. At this point feel as though they have taken the dominating position due to the condition of the white girls. At this point, the girls relate to the story Lauren was narrating to them about the Mennonites. The story was told to her by her father. It makes them understand that at some point, people adopt insensibility in relation to peaceful interactions with those around them especially if they are not from the same race (Kennedy and Gioia 147).
Charters, Ann. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. Bedford/St. Martins, 2015.
Kennedy, X J, and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Pearson, 2013.
Short Stories for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories. Gale Group, 2017.
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