Comparison of “Just Walk on By” by Brent Staples and “Complexion” by Richard Rodriguez

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Brent Staples and Richard Rodriguez’s autobiographical essays both start out with a problem, but they deal with it in different ways. Brent Staples’ “Just Walk on By” deals with the issue of racism and social judgment he faces because he is African-American, while Rodriguez’s essay “Complexion,” details the self-hatred and shame he felt in his childhood because of his skin color. Both of these essays deal with race, appearance, and self-acceptance, but the authors write about them in different ways. When looking at the similarities and differences together, the points of these essays have a much stronger message about how to deal with discrimination. These essays seem to have different stories, but both have many apparent similarities. In Brent Staples’ essay he discusses how society treats him like a threat and how he can do nothing about it. Likewise, in Richard Rodriguez’s essay, he talks about how he feels that society judged his skin color to be too dark and ugly. Both men felt like outcasts in their surroundings and neither could do anything to change that. Because of this discrimination, both men had to change their lifestyles. Staples adapted to how society viewed him and learned to live that way. For example, he always made sure to keep a certain distance between him and other pedestrians at night to make sure they felt safe. Rodriguez states many times in his essay how much he wanted to just be shirtless in the sun, but could not do it because he was sure his friends would judge him. So although he had urges to do certain actions, he held them back to adapt to the way he felt that his family and his friends saw him. Another similarity these two authors share is how they handled this hate. Staples writes that he learne... ... middle of paper ... Staples’ methods. Both of these essays deal with racism, self-acceptance, and adapting to life’s challenges, but they show them from different views and methods. “Just Walk On By” started out as Staples’ sad life story, but turned into the story of a man who eventually came to terms with the difficulties he would deal with in his life, and he faced them with a positive attitude. “Complexion,” unfortunately, ended with Rodriguez feeling self-defeated and believing he would never find a resolution to his problem. He did not want to ignore the issue of his skin color, but let it slowly take over his life. Seeing them side-by-side, these essays start out with the same problem, but eventually go in completely different directions near the end. Staples and Rodriguez dealt with the racism and social judgment on the inside and both had radically different resolutions.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how brent staples and richard rodriguez's autobiographical essays deal with race, appearance, and self-acceptance, but s write about them in different ways.
  • Compares brent staples' and richard rodriguez's essays. both men felt like outcasts in their surroundings and neither could do anything to change that.
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