Mrs Wilson seems, to me at least, to be a bit old fashioned – something that isn’t quite so odd, considering the story was written in the 1940’s. I can imagine her being the typical housewife, struggling in the kitchen, gossiping and worrying with the neighbourhood women and fussing over minor details concerning her precious son, Johnny. However, her temper can get the best of her, creating tension and thus leaving a situation next to unbearable. In the story’s situation I know I would find it unbearable – by sheer awkwardness!
As soon as little black Boyd enters her house, the assumptions pile up in Mrs Wilson’s head.
Instantly feeling sorry for him and wanting to take care of him, she makes sure Johnny doesn’t take advantage of him and starts feeding the new boy. As kind hearted as it may seem, it took a nasty turn towards the end. When she talks about Boyd’s parents and how he needs to eat enough to work hard, she assumes he comes from a poor black family, struggling to make ends meet.
There’s nothing about Boyd that would lead her to think so, except that he’s black and smaller than Johnny.
She just immediately builds up this whole idea of this poor little boy. That really is a vague estimate of a book-cover’s content (”judging a book by it’s cover”), that she nonetheless is sure of. And doing so makes her prejudiced. She hardly listens to Boyd’s explanation of his family’s situation, and certainly doesn’t accept it. Not even when he tells her, that his father is a foreman. Later on, she pretty much forces their own unwanted clothes on the boy, expecting gratitude in return.
When Boyd’s response was wonder, not understanding why he would be needing them, she becomes aggressive. Her reaction makes her seem arrogant, almost as if she needs the boy to be inferior. This makes her very unlikeable and shows her true colour. In today’s Denmark, there are people of all colours, ethnicities and and religions. Over the years this has become more and more accepted, but still there are Danes who look at them with distrust or just distaste. This can be a result of the criminal doings, that are caused by the immigrants.
It can also be because these immigrants come bringing foreign culture to Denmark, which some Danes find hard to understand. And it’s an old habit, that what you don’t know, you fear. When talking only about prejudice towards different races, it instantly becomes more difficult to explain. Racists can have many different reasons as to why they feel a certain way or even resentment towards another race. Some have got their opinions in childhood from their parents and some from experience. Whatever the reason, it is generalisation of a whole bunch of people and doing so is always wrong.