The White Boy Shuffle Short Essay - Answer Key

Paul Beatty
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1. What does Gunnar reveal himself to be in the Prologue and how does he feel about his role?

In the Prologue, the narrator identifies himself as one who has been conscripted as the voice of all African-Americans. He does not conceal his feelings toward such a title. He makes it clear that it is a title and a role he does not want.

2. What does Gunnar say his ancestors were like and what is his family situation in Chapter 1? Where does his mother work and what does she tell the children?

He says he comes from a long line of subservient blacks. His parents are divorced, and he and his two sisters live with his mother. Gunnar's mother works in a venereal disease clinic, and she often tells the children stories of family history.

3. What does Gunnar's mother tell her children about their ancestor Euripides?

Euripides is the youngest slave in history to purchase his own freedom. At age seven Euripides comes up with a scheme to make money. He rubs himself in lamp oil and then waits in a busy part of town and lets people pay to rub his head for good luck. In time Euripides becomes so popular that his fame attracts customers to his owner's blacksmith shop. At the age of nine Euripides purchases his own freedom.

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