& Education (Comparing Short Stories) Essay, Research Paper
Race and Education
The two children portrayed in the short stories ?The Circuit? by Francisco Jimenez and ?Doby?s Gone? by Ann Petry are at a disadvantage because of their races when it comes to forming friendships, overcoming obstacles, and preserving their childhood. While these two stories focus on one character, the difficulties that these children endure plague entire communities and groups of people.
In the stories, both children are from minority backgrounds. The young boy in ?The Circuit? is a member of a migrant family and is forced to change schools and move often while Sue, the little girl in ?Doby?s Gone,? is African American and is ridiculed because of her race. This causes them to feel like outsiders, making it difficult for them to form concrete relationships. Judging from the way her classmates hurl insults such as ?nigger girl,? ?her legs are black,? and ?how do you comb that kind of hair??(401), it is obvious that it is a struggle for Sue to fit in and form friendships. Sue has a stronger relationship with her imaginary friend Doby than she has with any children in her class. It is not so obvious in ?The Circuit? that the boy doesn?t make friends with his peers; however, instead of playing with the other children during lunch he spends time in the classroom of his teacher, his ?best friend at school,?(262). Because he is Hispanic and new at the school it would be a challenge for him to make friends with the other students because his family is constantly packing ?everything into cardboard boxes?(257) and moving again. Unlike this boy though, in ?Doby?s Gone,? Sue eventually makes friends with two of her classmates despite racial issues.
Part of the reason Sue forms the friendships with the two other children is that she begins to fight back against her tormenters. She lashes out against the children who are yelling and teasing her. By ?slapping and kicking?, ?tearing at clothing?, and ?scratching, biting, and kicking?with such passion and energy that the space around her cleared,?(402) she overcomes the feelings of inferiority and inadequacy brought on by the mocking. In ?The Circuit?, the boy has to overcome the conflict between his family?s lifestyle and his desire for an education. His parents fulfill this desire, but only when they don?t need him to work. The boy does not want to keep moving, continuing the cycle of ?starting the sixth grade for the first time that year,?(261) implying that it was not the first time he had been forced to cut his education short because of the need to relocate. Both children are forced to rise above difficulties when trying to receive their education.
By dealing with the trials involved in forming relationships and receiving an education, the children are forced to become more adult-like. They both gain the independence needed to overcome those tribulations. Throughout ?The Circuit?, the young boy proves his independent nature by working, going to school by himself, and depending on himself. At school, he is the one who goes to the office to enroll and makes the effort to ask his teacher for help with reading. In contrast, Sue doesn?t become independent until she fights the children who tease her. She finds strength within herself and forms relationships with the two children who befriend her. She doesn?t need Doby?s presence any longer; she will stick up for herself. It is necessary for the two characters to mature, and they find inner strength to depend on when faced with challenges.
By analyzing the children?s experiences, we find that all these aspects of the stories are related to race and education. The children find it difficult to form relationships, have to overcome challenges, and find inner strength. These issues do not affect these characters alone, but anyone who is looked down upon or has had to struggle because of differences. In the end though, there is the hope for change because the children make friends, rise above adversity, and discover maturity and independence.