Night Walker

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Transcript Night Walker

Night Walker
By Brent Staples
Do you agree that clothes make the
Building vocabulary
A. threatingly
B. not recognizable—ooze, pass through slowly
C. eager, devoted
D push ahead gradually but firmly
E. susceptible to injury
F. death causing
G. false bravery
H. suffocate
I. Care, advance protection against danger
J. cold and hard like steel—thrusting forward
Building vocabulary
2. Action: victim, shoved, swung, “cast
back.” “pick up her pace,” running,
 Emotion: mean, worried, menacingly,
“in earnest.”
 It creates a suspenseful atmosphere;
suggests impending or potential
Understand the writer’s ideas
1. He portrays himself as a menacing
figure—the way that white people often
view him in such situations.
Understanding the writer’s ideas
2. In Hyde Park, Chicago; “late one
evening”; twenty-two (or “youngish”);
taking a walk to relieve insomnia;
because she though he might be a
mugger or rapist; no, the term is applied
ironically—he was “surprised,
embarrassed, and dismayed.”
Understand the writer’s ideas
3. Urban white people’s tendency to
view him as a threat on the street—”the
ability to alter public space in ugly ways.”
The implication is that in some white
people’s eyes his presence can
transform any locale into a dangerous
Understand the writer’s ideas
4. Sensitive, intellectual, gentle. He
shies away from violence—he even
dislikes cutting up chicken. He
describes this as an adaptation to a
violent childhood environment where
those who courted violence died or went
to jail.
Understand the writer’s ideas
5. People may react violently when the
feel—rightly or wrongly—that they are
being threatened with violence.
 6. Defensive reactions to fear—locking
car doors, crossing to the other side of
the street.
Understand the writer’s ideas
7. They thought he might break into
their cars to rob them. He became
“accustomed to, but never comfortable
with” it.
Understand the writer’s ideas
8. Chester, Pennsylvania, a small industrial
town-he did not stand out against the more
general level of violent crime there, and was
presumably not considered a threat.
Manhattan has so much side walk traffic that
one-to-one encounters are not likely; women
in Brooklyn are highly sensitive to potentially
dangerous situations and often act as if
bracing themselves against a possible attack.
Understand the writer’s ideas
9. Surprised (early on), understanding,
but also angry. He has had to suppress
the anger for the sake of his sanity.
Keeping his distance from people:
waiting before following people into
buildings so as not to seem to be tailing
them: whistling classic music.
Understand the writer’s ideas
10. Police mistook the reporter for the
suspect in the crime on which he was
writing a background story. Only his
press credentials saved him from being
Understand the writer’s ideas
11. Not directly related in this essay,
although security guards at his office
mistook him for a burglar (par. 7), and
he notes that tales of mistreatment by
police are commonplace among black
Understand the writer’s ideas
12. No. He acknowledges that young black
men are “drastically overrepresented” among
violent criminals.
 13. They might assume that an educated,
cultured individual (as someone who knows
classical music would presumably be) would
not be likely to attack them.
Understanding the writer’s
1. The fact that a black man walking in
urban America will, to the majority of his
white counterparts, be indistinguishable
from predatory criminals, and will often
be regarded as if he were one.
Understanding the writer’s
2. “Night Walker” could be the title of a
suspense or horror story—excites
reader interest, as does the opening,
“My first victim….” Both of these seem
to promise excitement, action.
Understanding the writer’s
3. Staples uses the staccato narrative
style and evocative diction of crime and
spy stories to establish a suspenseful
tone. The tone shifts in the second
paragraph, where Staples dismantles
the illusion that the previous passage
was about an impending crime.
Understanding the writer’s
4. By not disclosing the actuality of his
identity and relying on direct “action
narrative” in par. 1, Staples allows the
audience to view the incident through
the eyes of a white person alone on the
street at night. A less limited perspective
is used in the narrative section of par. 7.
Understanding the writer’s
5. Heightens tension—undoes the effect
suggested by “discreet, uninflammatory
distance” in the previous sentence.
 6. Par. 1: Description of his appearance
conveys to readers why he might be
perceived as menacing. Par. 5: Description of
women’s defensive reactions underscores
the intensity of perceived threat.
Understanding the writer’s
7. “Thunk, thunk, thunk” of door locks in
par. 3—allows the reader to feel more
fully Staples’s sense of alienation and
 8. Seeing “countless tough guys” sent
to prison; the violent deaths of friends
and family members; his consequent
desire to avoid a similar fate.
Understanding the writer’s
9. Hikers wear cowbells to alert bears to
their presence will in advance’ bears,
like people, may react violently when
surprised or make afraid. Staples’s
whistling is like a cowbell in that it
deters mistaken impressions on the part
of those who share his nignttime
Understanding the writer’s
10. In par. 1. Staples represents a visual
stereotype of a “dangerous” black man only
to show, as the essay unfold, how unreliable
such stereotypes are.
 11. The article is probably primarily intended
for a white audience—the mistakenness of
the stereotypes Staples addresses and the
anger and alienation they create are, as
Staples suggests, commonplaces for many