As Eldwin attempts to write his ethnographical assignment based on Brian’s school experiences, he finds himself trapped in a creative rut. As he and Eldwin are two of the few black students in the overwhelmingly white UCLA, Eldwin feels pressured by Brian into writing his essay in specific ways. Should he write his essay without sacrificing his creative vision, which could potentially be misinterpreted as conforming to or reinforcing racial stereotypes? Or should he sacrifice his vision and conform to how white people want to see his work? Can a story be told without treating the subject as an object? This struggle continues throughout the story, and spurs many revisions of his essay.
As Brian puts it, “There’s no real way for you to capture the regional differences without getting all stereotypical. … Like, why would you want to tell this story about a bunch of black Southern guys discovering bread anyways? What purpose does it serve unless it’s to show yourself as somehow better than them?” (178)
Eldwin responds “Because it’s a good story, about cultural differences, racial differences, class differences. It’s more about how many different kinds of black people there are than it is about making everyone but Junior seem like a type.” (178)
Both of them make good points here. At the end of the story, a compromise is not reached. Where should the line be drawn? How can this issue be overcome?