Essay Example on Audre Lorde's Childhood Vacation: Memories of Independence Day

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1202 Words
Date:  2023-02-12

The essay "Fourth of July" by Audre Lorde follows the story of the author in an ice cream parlor setting where she went on a vacation with a family while she was young. As she was growing up, her parent's main focus was protecting their children from the harsh reality of racial discrimination in America. "My mother had roasted two chickens and cut them up into Dainty bite-size pieces. She packed slices of brown bread and butter and green pepper and carrot sticks". The author lived in the North where racial discrimination was unheard of; therefore she did not experience any form of discrimination. The vacation was meant to celebrate her success and the success of her sister. Phyllis studied in a predominantly white class, and during her senior class trip, he was unable to travel because the room they stayed in could not play host to negros (Lorde 240). Faced with disappointment, the teachers refunded her trip deposit. However, Audre's family could afford the trip and therefore decided to go to Washington by themselves. The main point the author was trying to highlight from her story is the racial discrimination she experienced growing up. We get to see Audre's tone change from exciting to angry throughout the essay as she uses logos and ethos appeals in conjunction with literary tools such as irony, imagery, and repetition to describe her experiences.

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The introductory part of the story depicts Audrey in an excited mood about the trip. However, the tone changes quickly into disappointment and anger when she gets to experience a reality that was hidden from her about the injustices in society. The use of repetition such as "The first time I went" helps paint a picture to the audience of the first time she got to travel on a train to Washington (Lorde 239). What she thought was by traveling to Washington, she would have the best experience. However, this was not the case, as everything played out different than what she expected. Audre uses a juvenile tone to describe her first experience traveling to a foreign location. The tone is reminiscent of that of a child getting to experience a new adventure. She uses words like "dazzling," which depicts her innocence. She also uses the word "violent," which is a foreshadow of what she was set to experience as the story progresses.

The tone shifts, however, from excitement to anger as her family gets to experience racial discrimination at the ice-cream parlor. Their family was forced to exit the shop as they had laws forbidding blacks from being served at the shop. The policies effected in America meant to limit the capabilities of negros in America from interacting with whites or even getting services in predominantly white areas. As the story progresses, Audre gets to experience the harsh realities of living in an oppressive society. The reality changes her perspective on everything. She uses the term "white' to describe everything around her. The use of the term was a metaphor meant to explain everything she hated about her experience (Lorde 242). She, however, concludes by stating the experience helped her transition from being a child where everything seemed to be okay to a more mature person where she would get to confront her reality.

Throughout the story, we get to experience Audre's emotions as she struggles to get to terms with what is happening. At the diner, the waitress tells them that she can serve them with take-out. However, Audre's family was not allowed to eat at the diner. Audre gets to hear a conversation that her parents had struggled their whole life to prevent her from experiencing. This new experience startles Audre as she does not understand what they have done. Her response to her parents is, "But we hadn't done anything wrong" (Lorde 242). The statement shows her innocence of an experience that she has never experienced in her whole life. Instead of giving a response to what is happening, her parents chose to ignore her as they felt that the situation is something they should have foreseen earlier and mitigated before it got out of hand. The same scenario can be echoed to Phyllis's case where the nuns return her trip deposit in private. The nuns feel guilty and fail to tell Phyllis the real reason for her trip cancellation, leaving her father to deal with the situation. The situation shows that both parties (blacks and whites) were ashamed of what was happening and that they had no control over what was happening. The Whites were embarrassed that the system discriminated against the blacks while the blacks were ashamed that they had to endure the experience.

Lorde also employs the use of irony to depict her anger towards society. The use of irony tears the curtain into Lorde's life and help the audience relate to her story. Lorde recalls when she was 14 traveling to Washington. To her, the biggest irony was her parents lying to her about racism when her sister was denied travelling to the same city out of fear of being subjected to discrimination. Lorde's family was black living in 1940s America, which was rife with racism towards the minorities and especially the black community. When she wanted to go to the Dining car, her mother comes up with excuses on why they couldn't go to the diner car (Lorde 240). However, the underlying reason was that the parents were afraid that she would get to know the truth; that she was black.

She further reveals to the audience but unbeknown to her that the only reason they managed to get a hotel was that her father had connections (Lorde 241). Her mother also made a lot of food for the trip because she knew that they would not be served at the food car. Her final realization of the discrimination they faced was at the ice cream parlor when they were denied to eat because of their race. However, she remained the only one who was disturbed by the event while her parents and siblings looked away in shame. Lorde uses irony as a means of conveying her frustrations to society. In the end, she uses verbal irony to describe her surroundings in Washington. To her, everything in the city was white, which was often a symbol of purity. However, she employs irony to show that white can also be corrupted.

In the end, Audre had to come to terms with the reality of living in a white society that had complete disregard for the rights of the minorities. She believes that what her family experienced was uncalled for which led her to despise her reality. However, after coming to terms with her reality, Audre believed that she was just a white girl living in "white America." Having experienced the harsh reality, Audre concludes that she is not a child anymore and has matured to face whatever the world throws at her. Towards the end of the story, the uses the word "white" repeatedly to describe her surroundings and prove to the readers that she lived in a racially biased society.

Works Cited

Lorde, Audre. "Fourth of July." 1947, pp. 239-242.,

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Essay Example on Audre Lorde's Childhood Vacation: Memories of Independence Day. (2023, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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