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In Hilton Als’ “This Lonesome Place,” he utilizes the life of another author, Flannery O’Connor, to point out the struggles of being a minority, looking specifically at the marginalization of characters in the literature of the American South. He expresses the struggles of being a black man in America in his previous essays; however, in this essay, he is approaching a similar idea of segregation and marginalization of Southern American culture but through the minority of gender, sexuality, and race. These points have been hinted at in his earlier essays, but in “This Lonesome Place” Als is taking on these themes from a broader angle. Instead of writing about his own personal experience, as he has done previously, he is attacking the issue by using Flannery O’Connor’s life and experience to exemplify his argument.

Als begins by taking the reader through short stories of O’Connor’s life experiences to bringing in some excerpts of her own writing. In utilizing Flannery O’Connor, Als is allowing the reader to understand that the marginalization that he has discussed in several of his other essays runs deeper than just race. He is expressing an idea that the America we are living in has been a place of lonesomeness created by marginalization. But why? When Hilton Als quotes O’Connor, both from her work and letters to friends, one can understand the impact of segregation. The material she wrote was plenty worthy of glory, as Als portrays it. Als represents Flannery O’Connor’s femininity and the harsh reality of oppression that she has also felt in her experiences, to be comparable to his own blackness. In conclusion, the question that is raised by Als simply focuses on the necessity of creating these marginalizing groups in America. Why is there a need for this, and why do we continue to do this? This is just one argument that he is fighting throughout White Girls.

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