The Test is a short story by Angelica Gibbs which illustrates the issue of power abuse, where actions all originate from personal prejudices and ignorance. The characters; Marion, the Inspector and Mrs. Ericson represent three different societies which collide and are caught in a situation where there is a victim, a perpetrator, and a denying, yet guilty onlooker.
Representing the first "society" is Marion. Though stereotyped by some (the Inspector) as being an ignorant and uneducated black woman, who is expected to be illiterate, married and to come from the South. In this story, Marion proves these racist assumptions to be wrong, and in turn, shows that she is an individual. Marion understands, and is fully aware of the prejudice that ignorant white Americans have about her, and the unfair way they treat her, due to her sex, race, and the colour of her skin. This knowledge was revealed when she rebuked Mrs. Ericson's suggestion that she should "slip them a little something" by saying, "No, that would only make it worse, Mrs. Ericson. I know". Aware that she is a victim of prejudice, Marion strives to build a protective barrier around herself; ignoring the cruel jibes, comments and actions of others, and hiding her anger, frustration and hurt feelings under a mask and outer exterior of calm indifference. During the Driving Test, Marion endured the Inspector's cruel and provoking comments, and his obvious contempt in her. It was only when he belittled and laughed at her college degree did Marion's calm exterior of indifference break down; - " I got my college degree last year", Marion said, her voice was not quite steady. - and finally collapsed altogether as she could control herself no longer, and burst out - "Damn you!". As she said this, Marion realised that she had failed The Test; that it was all over, and in the end, the Inspector's power had won.
Representing a society of white Americans who feel that
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