Racial Stereotypes In Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle

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Gunnar Kaufman, the main protagonist in Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle, is removed from comforts of white Santa Monica and relocated into a foreign setting, the ghetto of Hillside. Gunnar considers himself to be the “whitest Negro” and as he begins his journey in his new surrounding he realizes how true this title is. He may have held some expectations to what life in a “ghetto” what be like but he never believed that he would have to live it. Beatty creates a character that is able transcend racial barriers. Gunnar is accepted into the Santa Monica white community because that is where he was raised and as a result is as some put it “white-washed,” he not seen as an African American but as a member of the community. Although he experiences great difficulty in assimilating to the new culture, Gunnar is also able to move to Hillside without causing much alarm. In this paper, I argue that Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle challenges the stereotypes associated with African American spaces by utilizing satire to highlight Gunnar’s comical interpretations of his new surroundings, while the young protagonist is trying to discover who he in this environment. Paul Beatty redefines the idea of the African American male; Gunnar is a young African American male who intellectual and has a wide vocabulary. Gunnar uses his …show more content…
Because the novel is written in a memoir-like fashion, we are limited to Gunnar’s interpretation of the space he is encountering. He has yet to adapt to the changes and his perception of Hillside is superficial, the basis of his observations are solely established by what he sees and what he expects to see. Gunnar journey is one where he is struggling to merge his two identities. His prayer to the “gods of blackness” indicates his efforts to identify himself as a black male while keeping true to who he

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