A word thick with history, and especially offense. In ZZ Packer’s “Brownies,” racism is shown in its full form. In “Brownies” a young group of African American girls are affected by the racial slurs supposedly called by another group of Caucasian girls while attending a summer camp. Throughout the story these young girls attempt to solve their problems with their own solutions, rather than to consult an adult, and come in conflict with multiple problems. Race plays an integral part in this story as the girls take great offense to these supposed slurs.
Furthered by peer pressure ofthe group, as well as ignorance of adults and society, it is unlikely that this young group of girls will escape the cycle of racism that their lives circulate in. Racism settles in quite early, and stays for the long term in Packer’s “Brownies. ” The exposition, or the Start Of the ordeal, Starts as soon as the story begins, setting the stage for what is to come. In the beginning of “Brownies,” the girls make fun of Troop 909 as soon as they walk out of their bus, teasing the white girls behind their backs. “Man, did you smell them…
They smell like Chihuahuas. Wet Chihuahuas”(38). However, it is amusing that the young group of girls are then soon stuck with their own ordeal as Arnetta, the unspoken leader of the group, hears one member of Troop 909 supposedly call them a racial slur. Racism acts as the catalyst for the most part in this story as it is racism that draws the young group of African American girls to taunt the single white troop at camp; however, it also repels them from Troop 909 as they, themselves, are caught in a racial problem which they cannot solve and may not be able to get out of.
These girls are immersed in this cycle of racism which they cannot get out of due to their conflictions with peer pressure. It is evident that there is tension between the leaders Arnetta and Octavia, and the rest of the girls, especially the narrator “Snot,” whom Arnetta heavily dislikes. The rest of the girls view Octavia and Arnetta with a special presence and aura, “usually people were quiet after Arnetta spoke. Her tone had an upholstered confidence that was somehow both regal and vulgar at once”(41).
The “sight of Octavia’s mane prompted ther girls to listen to her reverentially, as though whatever she had to say would somehow activate their Throughout the story, the narrator is the victim of continuous taunts and teases by the leader Arnetta, like when she calls her “Snot. ” This teasing is emphasized here when Arnetta taunts the narrator and states “Snot, you’re not going to be a bitch and tell Mrs. Margolin, are you? “(42). These acts solidify the loyalty of the group to Arnetta as no one wishes to be in Snot’s position in the group.
However, this peer pressure is taken to another level when Arnetta claims to have heard a hite girl call them a racial slur. Arnetta states “Daphne? Didn’t you hear them call you a nigger”(40). This peer pressure takes hold on each Of the members in the group giving Arnetta the control. Even though some members of the group like Daphne and Snot know it could be wrong, like when Snot states “Maybe you didn’t hear them the group still willingly follows Arnetta in this racial war with Troop 909 in fear of being isolated and ridiculed.
This peer pressure locks them in this constant struggle with the cycle of racism as the members are stuck in a position between Arnetta and he racial slurs, and their own conscious telling them it is unlikely the event happened. Why was this peer pressure so strong within this group? According to faqs. org, peer pressure lets a person feel accepted in a society, where they can feel good about themselves, where their self-esteem and self-worth are noticeably higher, while allowing them to conform to society’s ever-changing rules and expectations which makes life easier on the person.
Furthermore, peer pressure can attract people whom feel that their original group or family is lacking characteristics which might define them Another reason the girls re immersed in this cycle of racism is because of the ignorance of adults and society’s impact on these young adults. The narrator’s descriptions of Mrs. Margolin represented her as a very dull, and trusting woman who is easily fooled and not strict. Mrs. Margolin is so immersed in her biblical acronyms that she believes that her troop members are all good girls, allowing for girls like Arnetta to easily fool Mrs.
Margolin. This is shown as the narrator states “Arnetta always made a point of listening to Mrs. Margolin’s religious talk and giving her what she wanted to hear”(39) Furthermore, Mrs. Hedy, Octavia’s mother is the chaperone of the Troop, however it is shown as that she rarely cares as she has unchecked marital problems with her husband. The narrator states that ‘When Octavia’s mother wasn’t giving bored, parochial orders, she sniffled continuously, mourning an imminent divorce from her husband”(44). According to umaine. du, Respect is a two Way Street in which both participants, the adult and child, must actively participate to get any respect from each other. This is exactly what isn’t happening with Mrs. Hedy and Mrs. Margolin and her troop. Since the children no longer fear their adults, nor had any respect for them, it was easy for the troop members to dismiss their authority, and blatantly lie and deceive them. This lack of respect given by the group of girls, coupled with the ignorance of adults fosters the growth of racism within the troop, as the group easily lies to the adults about their whereabouts, like when Arnetta states, “l handled them… old her we was going to gather leaves”(42). These girls are also further shaped by the society they happen to live in. The narrator Snot states that “When you live in the outh suburbs of Atlanta, it was easy to forget about whites. Whites were like those baby pigeons: real and existing, but rarely seen or thought about”(40). They never really had that much interaction with white people, stating all of them looked like they looked like busy businessmen who looked at their watches like they were about to become Superman, and as a result, they started the racist “Caucasian” joke at school, and advocated for racism at the camp.
Furthermore, society is shown in its grim form in “Brownies” when Snot talks about how her father took advantage of another Caucasian familfs eligious values and made them pain his porch, claiming “it was the only time he’d have a white man on his knees doing something for a black man for This statement takes hold of Snot and the other girls at the end showing them how cruel society and the real world can be. If the whole group had shown any sympathy or defiance to racism, it fails to be shown here.
Throughout “Brownies” only a select few of the group such as Daphne and Snot came to the realization of the actions taking place, and what is happening, but still proceeded with their actions regardless, while the rest of he group knowingly proceeded, until they found their faults at the end. Ultimately, the ignorance of the adults, society, and peer pressure has forced these young girls into a cycle of racism which they will not be able to escape.