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“Blue Against White” by Jeannette C. Armstrong Essay

This intense, short story contains flashbacks of a woman named Lena’s childhood. She was constantly embarrassed of her culture and family. She yearned for assimilation and could not handle the pressure of being different all her life. Lena finally decides to leave the reserve and pursue her life journey in the city, where she would also be schooled. Not only does Lena find out that the city is not the greatest destination, she realizes that again, she does not fit in amongst everyone – in this case the “white society.”

The story is full of symbolism. First of all, the blue door symbolizes the protagonist herself – Lena. She represents the door. Her whole life she was embarrassed by the way the bright blue color of the door stuck out. She was too immature then, to realize that it is okay to stand out and that individualism is good. The crow that is mentioned in the story, symbolizes all of the choices that Lena has made. “She had hated the dirt road and the mud in the spring and the dust in the summer”, these are the words that she uses in the story, to describe her feelings about her home. Based on them, we can see that living there, for her, was not the ideal place.

Lena does not want to be different anymore. She decides to go to the city and there she goes to school. Hoping for a new life and no more standing out, Lena easily gets disappointed. She learns that even if you move to a place with a higher population, you can still be alone. After coming to terms with herself and realizing that the city is not what she expected, Lena goes back to the reserve. She was happy to return to her roots. They are the one place you are always welcome to come back to. As she was coming home she was glad to see the dogs running freely in the reserve and the blue door that she despised all her life had now shown her a sign of home and safety.

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