Study Guide

The Displaced Person Racism

By Flannery O'Connor

Racism

"I heard her say 'This is going to put the Fear of the Lord into those shiftless n*****s.'" (1.32)

Mrs. McIntyre probably did say something like that to Mrs. Shortley, who gleefully repeats it to Astor. The phrase introduces the stereotype that black people are "shiftless" or lazy. We also see racism and religion colliding in a particularly ugly way.

"At last I've got somebody I can depend on. For years I've been feeling with sorry people. Poor white trash and n*****s." (1.56)

Mrs. McIntyre seems to hate people of all colors, so long as they are poor.

"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). Through Sulk, O'Connor gets at stereotypes that depict Africans as savages and cannibals.

"Mr. Guizac! You would bring this poor innocent child over here and try to marry her to a half-witted thieving back stinking n*****!" (3.55)

This language is horribly offensive and difficult to read. It seems Mrs. McIntyre's objection to the marriage is based on the fact that Sulk is black. If the groom had been a white man of the same age as Sulk would she still object?

All her life she had been fighting the world's overflow and now she had it in the form of a Pole. (2.71)

This is another passage where Mrs. McIntyre is shown to imagine human beings as garbage or trash because they have the misfortune to be working for her, regardless of race. In this story, the rhetoric of prejudice is the same whether it's based on race or something else.

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