“THE TEST” by Angelica Gibbs-Summary of the Story – This short story is about an Afro-American lady called Marian who is going to take her 2nd driving test. Mrs Ericson her white American employer goes with her to the test centre. Marian takes the test alone with the driving inspector. The inspector is progressively more and more racially abusive throughout the whole test. He feigns a joking manner but he becomes furious when Marian reacts to his comments. He has no qualms about failing Marian on things she has not even done. The story ends with Marian accepting the injustice of the situation as she “slid over to the right-hand side of the car”.
Structure – Whole story is set in one afternoon.
Start = Conversation between Marian and Mrs Ericson on way to test centre – made clear Marian is a good driver and an excellent worker who is highly thought of by her employer.
Middle = The actual test – we are made to see things from Marian’s point of view – imagine how annoying, humiliating and upset Marian would feel. Also worse the fact society at time allowed this sort of behaviour and Marian just has to accept it. When she reacts, the inspector gets revenge by failing her.
End = “Oh, Marian, again?” Mrs Ericson said – the use of this question and the fact the word “again” is highlighted in italics in the story shows Mrs Ericson’s disappointment, sympathy for Marian etc. Marian’s response is one of someone who has been downtrodden and resigned unhappily to an unfair treatment in life. “Marian nodded. “In a sort of different way” she said and slid over to the right-hand side of the car”. – We are left feeling sorry for Marian and furious with the inspector
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