The Brownies description of troop 909 “They were white girls, their complexions a blend of ice cream: strawberry, vanilla in the first few lines it is very clear that racial issues and segregation is a main topic. The author ZZ Packer did a great job stating since the beginning that the stories was going to be confrontational “Troop 909 was doomed from the first day of camp;” Segregation is also still happening during this time since there is no diversity in the members of the each troop, one is all African American and the other is all Caucasian girls. The girls immediately start being rude and negative with the white girls calling them “wet Chihuahuas” that they smelled bad. The brownies are not interested in even getting to know the girls. No matter what the white girls would do, the brownies would be annoyed regardless. You can tell that the girls are very unaware color/race since there fourth grade class started using “Caucasian” as a joke whenever the kids felt it fit in. Also stating that “Whites were like baby pigeons: real and existing, but rarely seen or thought about. During the time this story takes place segregation and racism was still very much alive blacks and whites only understood their own point of views and reacted by being closed minded on the issue.
This is apparent in Brownies since the story is told from a child’s perspective and usually kids form certain opinions based on their parent’s reaction of a subject or belief. The confrontation is promised in the part when Octavia commanded that every girl in the brownie troop by no means allow absolutely any one to disrespect any other the members by calling them “niggers.” Later that day one Arnetta says she heard one of the girls from troop 909 call them a “nigger.” At first one did not seem too concerned but as the day went on the thought had simmered inside her and she wanted some form of revenge. ZZ Packer showcases the Brownies secret racial hatred for the white girls through ironic humor. She transmits hidden philosophical messages to the reader through her words. While explaining the significance of a secret meeting, she also talks about the meaning of a secret saying, “A secret meant nothing; it was like gossip: just a bit of unpleasant knowledge about someone who happened to be someone other than yourself”. This is an effectual use of dramatic irony because the definition Packer provides for “gossip” is the basis of the entire story.
The Brownies creates the lie that one of the white girls used the racial slur “nigger” and this drives the rest of the story. Racism is also very apparent in the story line at no giving point in the story do you read anything about the scouts doing an activity together or mingling. Its this way it keep the animosity building up. The white girls seemed to always be the first ones doing everything. It demonstrate in a subtle way that they are superior than the black girls to us the reader. Whites are viewed as the better race in an all African American community. Everything about the girls in troops 909 radiate beauties that result in an envy and hatred from the brownies. “Their long, shampoo-commercial hair, straight as spaghetti from the box” such phrases are triggers that add up to bringing out racism. ZZ packer demonstrates how we are all in a way deprived and unfortunate.
The curve ball in the plot where the brownies encounter troop 909 and they discover that the girls are mentally challenged, put out in the open the unfairness and injustice experienced by society. The irony lies in that the brownies are now superior to the white girls because of their condition. It is interesting how from the beginning of the story we are made aware of Laurel feelings towards her father. Laurel was so captivated by Daphne’s poem “you are my father the veteran”. Laurel probably feels very proud of her father and the positive role he plays in her life. Once she started telling the girls about the story of the Mennonites. “ I now understood what he meant, and why he did it, though I didn’t like it”.
As laurel keeps telling the girls about her father’s action. An epiphany happened to her. Her father was doing the same things the Mennonites even though they were painting his porch he was not nice to them. It implies the insensibility people have to chosen to adopt when it comes to living peacefully with other races. Using irony and contrast, ZZ Packer tells us that it is unimaginable to find perfection in our world or an individual. no one is perfect and it is this inevitable imperfection of life that inflicts deprivation and misfortune in human lives.
Courtney from Study Moose
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