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Hilton Als continues to use the life stories of others to describe greater social points in “This Lonesome Place,” as he does throughout the entire text of White Girls. In “This Lonesome Place,” Als uses both excerpts from the fiction of Flannery O’Connor as well as quotes from her actually documented interactions with others. In doing this, Als not only establishes himself as someone with enough research credibility to be telling the story of another person, but also enables himself to use the two forms of O’Connor’s communication in contrast to one another.

The essay is cleverly disguised as a sort of biography of an author, where she grew up, and how she became such a glorified artist. However, within that biographical narrative there is a heavy concentration on the intimacy of particular settings. Using O’Connor, a well-known writer of fiction which often reflects Southern culture, as an example of this significance of setting was a particularly strong point of connection. Als, while addressing the importance of a person’s geographic background, manages to incorporate the idea that much of the importance of an area has to do with the people in that area, and how their similarities and differences impact the existence of others within that same place. In this explanation of people and place, he says something deeper about social divisions, which are not always purely based on race, without stating the point explicitly.

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