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Representation of Various Faces of Shame in "Shame" by Dick Gregory

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Shame is inevitable. It is something that everyone everywhere will encounter. The pathos short story “Shame” by esteemed author Dick Gregory emphasises the struggles, prejudice and discrimination held upon a black boy in a discoloured society. From a young age, Richard faces the stresses of poverty, constantly ridiculed and targeted because he stands out, indeed a victim of racism. Richard Gregory experiences the feeling of shame, which is highlighted in this story through the use of 3 instrumental characters: His teacher, his crush (Helene Tucker) and his father.

First and foremost, shame is showcased through his reaction to his teacher’s remarks of him. She deliberately disgraces him in front of his class and looks upon him with disdain. This is evident when the author writes: “I sat in the idiot’s seat and the teacher thought I was a troublemaker, Richard we know you don’t have a daddy; we are raising money for you and your kind”. When we are children, adults’ opinions matter deeply to us. Without a parental figure, Richard looks to his teacher for approval. The predicament that occurs that day at school alters his original vision of his teacher negatively and helps him realize that she thinks less of him. It is clear that he begins to understand how others perceive him. Richard is severely shamed because his teacher tells and treats him like he is something to be ashamed of. She is so overbearing that she chooses to undermine and disregard all the talents he has to offer.

Moreover, Richard encounters another type of shame when he is humiliated in front of Helene Tucker; a girl he cares about. This is especially painful because when talking about Helene, Gregory says: “Everyone’s got a Helene Tucker, a symbol of everything you want. That day, Helene Tucker turned around, her eyes full of tears, sorry for me. When I played the drums it was for Helene and when I stood on stage and heard applause, I wished Helene heard too”. Shame affects us when we realize that the people we care about feel sorry for us. In the story, it becomes apparent that Helene Tucker takes pity on Richard when she finds out that he does not have a father. Helene’s pity is agonizing because she represents everything that he wants. She is his only desire and symbolizes an intense motivation or a trophy. Richard is devastated, so he devotes parts of his life dedicating various key moments to her. Ultimately, the author brilliantly exhibits shame in this story as he connects it to the absence of Richard’s father in his life. It is believed that a child benefits greatly from a father figure as it helps the child grow to their fullest potential. His struggles are implied with the quotations: “I decided I was going to save my money from shining shoes and buy a daddy right then. No time for jokes, Richard. The world heard the teacher say – we all know you don’t have a daddy”. A childhood without a father bestowed a negative toll on Richard’s self- respect, pride and dignity as revealed in this story. Society automatically categorizes him and judges him. He is downgraded and regarded as unavailing. This shame impacts how he views himself. Richard suffers due to an issue out of his control but still makes him feel like he is missing a pivotal piece in his life.

In the end, Richard Gregory’s battle with shame causes him to question everything he does, including his everyday routines. He begins to regret and feel shame while doing regular actions like washing his clothes with ice or begging for leftovers from Mister Ben’s. It is clear that shame acts like a cankerworm eating into the fabrics of his life. The author’s message of shame is showcased in this story through the use of Richard’s teacher, Helene Tucker and his father.

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Representation Of Various Faces Of Shame In “Shame” By Dick Gregory. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 21, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/representation-of-various-faces-of-shame-in-shame-by-dick-gregory/
“Representation Of Various Faces Of Shame In “Shame” By Dick Gregory.” GradesFixer, 10 Dec. 2020, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/representation-of-various-faces-of-shame-in-shame-by-dick-gregory/
Representation Of Various Faces Of Shame In “Shame” By Dick Gregory. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/representation-of-various-faces-of-shame-in-shame-by-dick-gregory/> [Accessed 21 Jan. 2022].
Representation Of Various Faces Of Shame In “Shame” By Dick Gregory [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Dec 10 [cited 2022 Jan 21]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/representation-of-various-faces-of-shame-in-shame-by-dick-gregory/
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