Arrangement in Black and White

This study guide will help you analyze the text “Arrangement in Black and White” by Dorothy Parker. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Arrangement in Black and White”
Author: Dorothy Parker
Published in: The New Yorker
Date of Publication: 1927
Genre: Short story

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was an American writer of poems, short stories, essays, and plays. Her style of writing is often defined by irony and playfulness which create humor.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Irony and humor dominate the text as the main character often contradicts herself and comes across as unaware of her racial prejudices: “He's really awfully fond of colored people. Well, he says himself, he wouldn't have white servants.” 

A few similes help readers understand the true nature of the main character. The woman claims she likes African-Americans but compares them to children: “They're just like children”. This suggests that she actually views African-Americans as inferior and treats them like a form of entertainment.

To convey the character’s falseness, the narrator describes her “moving her lips meticulously, as if in parlance with the deaf” when she talks to Walter Williams. This suggests that the woman assumes she needs to speak more loudly and clearly to be understood by an African-American.


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Arrangement in Black and White

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