Study Guide

The Displaced Person Foreignness and 'the Other'

By Flannery O'Connor

Foreignness and 'the Other'

"They can't talk" Mrs. Shortley said. "Do you reckon they'll know what color even is?" (1.9)

As far as Mrs. Shortley is concerned Europe might as well be Mars.

"She says it's ten million more like them, Displaced Persons, she says that there priest can get her all she wants." (1.46)

Mrs. Shortley isn't aware that Mrs. McIntyre is telling her this to make her feel that her job is insecure, as a means of keeping her on her toes. This early moment in the story shows how Mrs. McIntyre's use of "Displaced Person" to strike fear in her employees contributes to their fear and suspicion of the Guizacs.

Every time Mr. Guizac smiled, Europe stretched out in Mrs. Shortley's imagination, mysterious and evil, the devils experiment station. (1.70)

Mrs. Shortley does have an intense imagination. Because the picture of Europe she gets is so incomplete, she magnifies the incomplete images to fill in the gaps of what she doesn't know.

People ought to have to struggle. Mr. Guizac probably had everything given to him all the way across Europe and over here. (2.37)

Mrs. McIntyre ignores the obvious evidence to the contrary. Mr. Guizac is obviously a hard worker. The fact that he is missing half of his teeth suggests that he has seen some hard times indeed. She's just talking to try to justify her own callousness.

"I ain't going there. They might eat me up." (3.54)

Sulk is talking about Africa, in response to Mr. Shortley's suggestion that he "go back to Africa" (3.54). Sadly, Sulk isn't able to explore the rich cultural history of Africa, and has to rely on common stereotypes of Africans as cannibals.

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