Short Story Review: Arrangement in Black and White by Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker is an American short-story writer and poet and became one of the greatest humourists of her generation. Arrangement in Black and White was published in 1927.

This short story follows the story of the main character – a woman, and her dialogue with the host of the party, and an African-American musician. The dialogue between the characters is how the author helps reveal the woman’s character as she socialises at a predominately white party. It raises the issue of racial discrimination that African-American people suffered in the first half of the twentieth century in America.

I think this short story is brilliant, and its use of dialogue to show the undertones of the self-appointed racial superiority is brilliant. It is what is meant by her twisted words that is more revealing than her waffling on contradicting herself every few sentences. I like how the author lets the woman talk way too much, and through conversation her gossipy and white judgemental side is apparent, allowing for the realism of racism between whites and coloured people to shine through. It is a clever use of words and tone that helps sets this story.

What I didn’t like about this story, to be honest, was the main character. I just wanted to tell her to shut up, so it was humorous to me that she sabotaged herself.

This was one of my favourites to review because I learnt that allowing a character to unapologetically be themselves, and not holding their tongue, it makes for a rather wicked way of telling a story and shows the readers her true nature and story by her actions and dialogue. Parker, D. (1927). Arrangement in black and white. New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1927/10/08/arrangement-in-black-and-white

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