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Literary Analysis of “Sean” Essay

“Sean,” is a story about a black boy adopted by white family. A series of violent actions against Sean’s siblings prompted the narrator’s mother, an attorney with Child Welfare to take custody of Sean (Siegel 438).

Other families had given up on adopting Sean because of his daily nightmares, which had deprived them of sleep. What starts off as a short stay, lasted a lifetime when the narrator’s family adopted Sean.

The narrator tells of his experiences with Sean throughout various stages of their lives. In “Sean,” the author uses an urban setting to show how race is “constructed” by people and places that surround the characters.

The narrator realizes the color disparity between Sean and himself. He goes on to describe various scenarios under which people bring out the color differences between his foster brother and himself.

Sean first recognizes that he is black when he is four years old. This realization hits him when they go for a meal at a Chinese eatery. The atmosphere in the restaurant makes Sean feel awkward. This drives him to the discovery that his skin color is black, unlike other people’s (442).

When the narrator goes to visit his friends on the Fire Island, it excites people to associate with Sean. Sean has a bubbly nature. Although people are happy to interact with Sean, they realize that he is black.

One of them goes on to commend the narrator for taking in a child, but not without adding racist remarks “You’ve rescued a child and given him a home. A little black boy” (443).

On this occasion, the author shows that the gathering interprets a sincere act of kindness with a racist attitude. However, the narrator takes this incident positively and Sean accompanies him to all his social outings in Brooklyn ever since.

The narrator later notices a trend of white females looking skeptically at him and Sean whenever they are in town. He tries to envisage what could be going on in the women’s minds and comes up with a thought: “albeit racist.”

He pictures that women imagine that he is Sean’s father and that they are poor, “I can only imagine how these women filled in the blanks: teen parents, black and white, poor, hapless.

A sort of interracial La Boheme, with a coughing, wheezing child” (444). Here, the author uses the circumstances surrounding Sean and the narrator (Sean’s clothes and the narrator’s age) to show the creation of racism.

Some time after Sean’s adoption, the family goes for a cruise in their family vehicle. They see a commotion around the Times Tower. The cause of the commotion is a black man yelling through a microphone.

The man complains of how the Jews dispossess black people of everything they have. The term “Jew” refers to the white race (447). The African-American man takes advantage of the multitude present at the Times Tower to shout racist remarks.

In this scene, author also depicts racism in an urban setting. In a different scenario, the narrator notices an African-American issuing leaflets with racist slogans to black people while ignoring the white people.

The political atmosphere gets heated up in the Southern City where the narrator lives. The narrator explains that racism is the cause of the political tension (448).

All these occurrences perfectly coincide with urban settings. Hence, this paper concludes that the author uses an urban setting to show how race is created by people and places surrounding the characters.

Works Cited

Siegel, Richard Anthony. “Sean”. Freud’s Blind Spot: 23 Original Essays on Cherished, Estranged, Lost, Hurtful, Complicated Siblings. Ed. Elisa Albert. New York: Free Press, 2010. Print.

This Essay on Literary Analysis of “Sean” was written and submitted by user Ace Levine to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Ace Levine studied at Samford University, USA, with average GPA 3.22 out of 4.0.

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Levine, A. (2019, April 11). Literary Analysis of “Sean” [Blog post]. Retrieved from

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Levine, Ace. "Literary Analysis of “Sean”." IvyPanda, 11 Apr. 2019,

1. Ace Levine. "Literary Analysis of “Sean”." IvyPanda (blog), April 11, 2019.


Levine, Ace. "Literary Analysis of “Sean”." IvyPanda (blog), April 11, 2019.


Levine, Ace. 2019. "Literary Analysis of “Sean”." IvyPanda (blog), April 11, 2019.


Levine, A. (2019) 'Literary Analysis of “Sean”'. IvyPanda, 11 April.

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