After You My Dear Alphonse


esource Pack for: “After You my Dear Alphonse” by Shirley Jackson

Created by Ravinder Kaur


Shirley Jackson, an American author who wrote a series of short stories and novels in the early 1900s. Whilst she is known more for her works of horror and mystery, it has often been believed that she used metaphors in her writing to convey ideas about power and disempowerment. “After You, My Dear Alphonse” is a less well known short story written by her which was published in The New Yorker on 16 January 1943. Though this story conveys the ideologies prevalent in those time, there are ideas that hold true to this date and we can make comparisons to how much things have changed or not changed. That is something for you to explore in this unit.

The ironic title of this story is a phrase that is an allusion to an American comic and it has been used to suggest politeness. This story is set in a period where the African American communities faced challenges in America and Jackson’s work has been known to be about “… people oppressed and persecuted by close-minded communities.” There are many texts that deal with discrimination and derogatory behaviour. You will have opportunity to study some modern texts that portray ideas that are similar in nature. The other short story that can be studied with this is “The Test” by Angelica Gibbs, the poem “Telephone Conversation” by Wole Soyinka and local ones like “His First Ball” by Witi Ihimaera.