The White Boy SHuffle by Paul Beatty

Essay by goleHigh School, 12th gradeA, April 2004

download word file, 4 pages 4.5

In The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty, the main character, Gunnar Kaufman, constantly changes his dialect, in an attempt to blend in with his surroundings. For instance, while living in the predominately white neighborhood of Santa Monica, Gunnar speaks improper English, with a major emphasis on extending words, in order to be accepted by his friends. Yet, when he moves to the "ghetto" community of Hillside, he uses colloquial speech, in a vain and misplaced attempt to fit the black community's perception of him. Despite gaining the black and white communities acceptance through different styles of verbal communication, each time, Gunnar must give up a part of himself to be liked. As a result, Gunnar's attempts at being either an all-American, white boy from the west coast, or a dangerous, black, gang member from the ghetto eventually fail. The reason being, he can't be one with out the other because he's a combination of the two.

By acting solely as a black or white boy, he neglects his "other side"; when trying to fit in with white folks, he ignores his blackness, and when around black people, he disregards the language and behaviors learned from his white upbringing (the things learned from growing up with white people). Thus, as Gunnar moves from East to West Los Angeles, the failures of his language adaptation, depending on his social context, expose his attempts at being something he's not; in an effort to be accepted, Gunnar must always give up or cover a certain side of himself.

A good illustration of Gunnar's grammatically incorrect English is noticeable through his communication with friends. "White Gunnar"would say things like "no waaaay, duuuude", tuuuubular biiiitchin to the max and "tooootally fucking raaaad." He'd spend his days ridding the waves in the scorechering California sun,