Dina is the main character of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere and Geese, the two short stories by a contemporary African-American author ZZ Packer. The behaviors and positions of the girl depicted in these two stories are identical, offering an interpretation that these two stories are about the same person and depict Dina’s continued journey. Dina’s experiences in Japan depicted in Geese contribute to the depiction of her life at Yale from Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, offering valuable insights into the development of her character and search for personal and national identity.
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Dina is depicted as a talented African-American girl who makes progress in her study but has significant difficulties in socializing and interacting with others. The coping strategy chosen by this character is radical segregation. In one of the episodes of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, Dina admits that she has contact with no one outside the class.
Therefore, segregation is a conscious moral choice of this girl. By the way, she even recommends separating from the rest of the students to a Canadian girl Heidi, who asks her for a piece of advice. Another coping strategy adopted by Dina is aggression directed towards others. Dina’s aggressive behaviors are evident from her interaction with other people in the episodes of the short story Geese. Notably, in Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, when asked what kind of inanimate object she would like to be, Dina answers that she would like to be a revolver killing all people. The dean and psychiatric counselor try to convince Dina that she might be joking when making such statements.
However, the girl insists that she is rather sincere in this response, which represents her inner state and her attitude to others. It may seem that Dina’s behavior is a revolt of a girl trying to draw public attention to her psychological problems. However, this assumption contradicts Dina’s willingness to separate from the rest of the community.
Dina’s experiences depicted in the short story Geese contribute to the understanding of her character. By the final episode of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, Dina has not obtained her identity. The girl still isolates herself from the rest of the world and even refuses to go to the funeral of her friend’s mother. Thus, the girl does not complete her quest for personal identity and does not find the answers to her disturbing questions.
Moreover, by the end of the first short story, Dina even does not understand those questions, because she is unable and unwilling to look inside of her soul. The depiction of the girl’s journey in Japan and her experiences of racial discrimination in the short story Geese is essential to understanding the stages in her personal development. In this short story, Dina obtains more self-knowledge and understands how far she can go to achieve what she wants.
Interacting with the characters that came all over the world, Dina experiences a different kind of racial discrimination and concludes that the chronic stress caused by her family background and experiences of discrimination had a significant impact on her personality. Therefore, aggression has become an integral element of Dina’s personal qualities. A short story Geese depicts important stages of Dina’s personal development and quest for her self.
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere and Geese are two short stories by ZZ Packer telling a story about a continued journey of an African-American girl Dina. The two stories provide valuable insights into different stages of the girl’s personal development.