ZZ Packer's Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

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Pages: 4

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

ZZ Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere contains a collection of remarkable well written short stories. Packers brilliant stories analyze the issues in society such as race, class, and religion. For instance, the story “Geese” examines the issues of xenophobia that foreigners face when a black woman moves to Japan. Packer constructs her intricate short stories by skillfully applying the elements of fiction such as conflict, characterization, and dialogue. By using those elements Packer created the national bestseller Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. Strong dialogue brings a character to life. Readers can see that Packer understands this concept when she chooses to use the fictional tool dialogue to add dimension to her
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If not for the explicit conflict in the stories there would be no story. Packer takes advantage of external and internal conflict numerous times throughout her book to move her stories along. Packer’s “Our Lady of Peace” tells the story of a young woman who becomes a teacher and learns that her own race of people can also be antagonizes. Through her futile attempts the teacher Lynnea tries to prove that she can be a teacher to a group of black students and control her class. Although Lynnea has a winning moment the rowdy class wins the battle in the end. In reference to the wild class the narrator states “They didn’t quite yell and scream, but their collective whimsical talk was the unsettling buzz of a far off carnival. When she sent them to the principal’s office, they snickered and bugged out cartoon eyes, heading toward the office for a few paces, then bolting in the opposite direction.” (60). That scene emphasizes the harsh external conflict Lynnea must deal with. As for internal conflict in “Every Tongue Shall Confess” the audiences watch the internal conflict that Clareese has concerning being a Christian. After hearing the man she dislikes named Cleophus play what sounded like juke music the narrators tells, “She didn’t want to answer yes. But she also didn’t want to lie. And what was one to do in that circumstance? If God looked into your heart right then, what would He think? Or would he have to approve …show more content…
In “Every Tongue Shall Confess”, Packer makes the people of the church represent the hypocrisy found in Christian Churches. Packer displays this hypocrisy when the narrator says “Before she could stop him, one finger was wriggling around inside, and by then it was too late to tell him she was having her monthly womanly troubles.” (34) to describe Deacon McCreedy sexual assault towards Clareese. The fact that a man who is committed to the church would sexually abuse someone symbolizes the hypocrisy that can be found in both religion and church. Furthermore, Packers characters represent themes. Readers learn that it is not always who you expect that will be your enemy. In “Our Lady of Peace”, the story starts off with Lynnea having disdain towards White people. The narrator implies “Inner-city Baltimore students would be nothing like the whiny white girl from the bus station” (56) to show why Lynnea picked the job as a teacher. One can assume that if she would have known what she was getting herself into she would choose to listen to the White girls complain. Allowing character’s to portray symbols and themes is another great way Packer wrote the