Characterization of the white woman

The main character in the short story “Arrangement in Black and White” by Dorothy Parker is the white woman. The host and Walter Williams are secondary characters that help better reveal the woman’s character. 

The protagonist of the story is a white American woman whose characterization is constructed through dialogue, which helps convey her perspective towards African-Americans, and through her actions at the party.

Her outer characterization informs us that she is married to a Southerner named Burton and that she has “pink velvet poppies twined round the assisted gold of her hair”.

Table of contents

Inner characterization

The woman’s inner characterization reveals a flat character who likes to believe that she is accepting and progressive when it comes to African-American people when, in fact, she has many racial prejudices about them.

From the beginning of the story, the woman comes across as slightly impolite, as she grabs her host’s arm and demands to be introduced to the guest of honor: “ ‘Now I got you!’ she said. ‘Now you can't get away!’ (...) ‘Oh, I'm finely,’ she said. ‘Just simply finely. Listen. I want you to do me the most terrible favor. Will you? Will you please? Pretty please?’” 

Before being introduced to Walter Williams, the woman constantly talks about her attitude towards African-Americans and compares it to that of her husband or other people, trying to accentuate how open-minded she is: “I don't see why on earth it isn't perfectly all right to meet colored people. I haven't any feeling at all about it not one single bit. Burton oh, he's just the other way.” 

Although she claims she likes Walter Williams and his music, she constantly points out that he is ...

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