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After You, My Dear Alphonse

This study guide will help you analyze the text “After You, My Dear Alphonse” by Shirley Jackson. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. 

Presentation of the text

Title: “After You, My Dear Alphonse”
Author: Shirley Jackson
Published in: The New Yorker
Date of Publication: 1943
Genre: Short Story

Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) was an American writer of mostly horror and mystery short stories and novels. She was very popular during her lifetime and is mostly remembered for two short stories, “The Lottery” and “The Haunting of Hill House”.

Excerpt

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Structure

The short story “After You, My Dear Alphonse” by Shirley Jackson is structured around a single event in the life of the characters, a lunch conversation between a white woman and her son’s black friend. Simply organized, the story is ironical and follows most of the usual plot elements, having an exposition, a rising action, a climax, a falling action and a resolution.

Title

The title of the short story - “After You, My Dear Alphonse” - is an allusion to a comic series involving two caricature men, Alphonse and Gaston. The expression has entered the popular culture because it refers to excessive politeness which leads to a back and forth, particularly in front of doorways. After reading the story, the title becomes relevant for the interactions between the white woman, Mrs. Wilson, and the African-American boy, Boyd.

 

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After You, My Dear Alphonse

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