Observing A Conversation About Bread

“A Conversation About Bread”, by Nafissa Thomson-Spires, is a short story about Brian and Eldwin, two black men who are studying anthropology and discussing powerful stories from their lives. Brian and Eldwin, are described as feeling like “unicorns” in their grad program. Comparing the men to a unicorn was very significant because it emphasizes that the men feel so out of place in their school of white students, that they are comparing themselves to a rare mythical creature.

While the men were speaking, a white woman in the room was listening in on their conversation and at one point even took out a notebook as if she was studying them. This was so profound because Brian and Eldwin, who were studying experiences from their lives, were simultaneously being studied themselves by a white woman. At the end of the story it is stated that “She may have been an anthropologist too.” This statement changes the whole presence of the woman from just a nosy woman eavesdropping, to anthropologists studying the men. This woman perfectly displays why Brian and Eldwin felt so different and out of place because they are just doing completely normal things but to the white woman they are so unique and different that she had to stop and observe them.

Mutual Recognition in the Spiderhead

Between Jeff and Abnesti there was a strong binary in which Abnesti was dominant over Jeff. Being that Jeff was a criminal submitting to the experiments of Abnesti the scientist, Abnesti held most of the power in their relationship. Although Abnesti was clearly dominant, the two conversed as if they were almost friends and they had an understanding of the reasoning behind the work they were doing. It also seemed as though Abnesti was attempting to give Jeff a false sense of mutual recognition by making himself appear as a normal human being and constantly reminding Jeff that he has a family, he has feelings, all to make Jeff feel equal to Abnesti as two humans with emotions. On page 68, Abnesti asks Jeff, “Am I a monster?… Do I remember birthdays around here? When a certain individual got athlete’s foot on his groin on a Sunday, did a certain other individual drive over to Rexall and pick up the cream, paying for it with his own personal money?” (Spiderhead, 68). For a moment, Abnesti’s description of how he is not a “monster”, makes Jeff think he isn’t all that bad and he’s just doing his job. This almost makes Jeff feel equal to Abnesti, when in reality Abnesti does not see Jeff this way.