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Life in a Nutshell: Black Girl, A Short Story by Sembene Ousmane

Decent Essays
What exactly is an ideal lifestyle? The answer is different for every person because some people desire more and some desire less. In the short story “Black Girl” by Sembene Ousmane, the reader learns about Diouana’s determination to climb the social hierarchy ladder. As the protagonist, she indulgences in the thought of moving away from her hometown in Africa where she has been working as a maid for the last few years for a rich white family. Her vision of the perfect lifestyle is living in France, where she imagines herself making millions and bathing in fortune. Unfortunately, things don’t always appear as they seem. The story illustrates that when one thinks of their ideal lifestyle they mainly rely on their personal experience which…show more content…
After spending a few months in France, she begins to realize it isn’t quite as beautiful as first imagined. While working at the Villa of Green Happiness she realizes that she is trapped within the compound and has nobody to talk in this country. She also realizes that her skin color is a burden on her and therefore gets treated like an object by her employers rather than a human being. . “The venom was poisoning her heart” (140). In Africa, white skin is rare and exclusive to the wealthy but in France its black skin that is rare but is no way associated to wealth.

The story also includes a few symbols that demonstrate the protagonist’s psychological evolution. The conversation with Tive Correa is symbolic to Diouana’s future misfortune. He specifically explains to Diouana why she should not be going and how it’s normal that she can perceive France as a great option but in reality it’s the complete opposite. Tive Correa is completely ignored by Diouana as he tries to give her advice based on his personal experience. “He had left, rich with youth, full of ambition, and come home a wreck” (138). He also tries to reason with Monsieur as he is waiting for Diouana to collect her belongings but he won’t have any of it. “For Diouana he predicted nothing but misfortune” (138). The sea symbolizes the freedom she believes she will obtain in France. The
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