Themes and message


In the short story “After You, My Dear Alphonse”, Shirley Jackson explores the theme of prejudice. She does this through Mrs. Wilson, one of the main characters. Mrs. Wilson’s prejudice and underlying racism towards her son’s African-American friend, Boyd, are hidden under a mask of generosity and hospitality. Even though she receives plenty of information that suggests Boyd’s family is quite well-off, Mrs. Wilson’s prejudice prevents her from accepting it.

Mrs. Wilson’s prejudice against African Americans makes her imagine that all black people are poor and have to do physical labor. She also imagines that Boyd must have lots of siblings and that his parents must find it difficult to provide for them all. 

The theme of prejudice is connected with the feeling of white superiority, which Mrs. Wilson displays towards Boyd...

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