Beatty’s book

The Protagonist and the Plot

The protagonist and prolific African-American poet Gunnar Kaufman is introduced to the reader in Beatty's novel. The memories of Gunnar are central to the book's plot. The comical family tree study of Gunnar, who initially resides in Santa Monica before moving to what Gunnar refers to as "Hillside" in Los Angles, serves as the plot's opening scene. The Hillside is a largely black neighborhood that is referred to as a slum. Gunnar's family experiences a distinct way of life in the Hillside than they did in Santa Monica. The reader notes that Gunnar learns "the hard way that social norms in Santa Monica were unforgivable breaches of proper Hillside etiquette" (Beatty 52). The changing of the environment also aids in the development of the plot from the environment of the white rich community in Santa Monica to a poor ghetto community.

Plot Development and Character Motives

The plot development of The White Boy Shuffle book helps the reader to understand the storyline and enables him or her to focus more attention on the significant parts of the character lives. This is evident when Gunner changes from a good person and gets involved in gang activities when he met Scoby. The plot also presents the motives of the characters and how their changes affect their lives. Besides, the reader appreciates that the plot assists in connecting the events of the story and thus giving it a purpose (Stallings 27). The plot of the book significantly engages the reader, depicts the conflicts that are seen in the story, and gradually reveals the occurrence of the story leading to the climax. Furthermore, the audience gets emotional through the interaction of the book's characters such as Gunnar who are modeled by the plot.

Character Literary Analysis

One of the paramount elements of fiction that the reader notes from the book are the aspect of character development. The book is significantly based on the main character Gunnar Kaufman and his actions and changes that he undergoes in life. The book describes the life of this character in a more appealing manner that helps the reader to understand him. According to Stallings, Beatty turns the aspect of character development in the book to appear in being a form of art (Stallings 5). Gunnar drastically changes from the elementary school boy and becomes an adult. Every occurrence that Gunnar encounters in the book significantly impacts on his personality and guide his actions in the entire story of the book. When in the Hillside, Gunnar meets Nicholas Scoby who is a thug character and ends up having a great influence on him. He changes his character and makes him develop into a gang person. Additionally, Scoby is an exceptional basketball player, and he inspires Gunnar in becoming a basketball player. Their meeting significantly had a huge impact on their lives and marked the turning point in the development of Gunnar character. Notably, Gunnar seems to be changing in the entire novel, and his changes arise from the people he meets in life.

Language and Racial Diversities

The character development is aided by the choice of language used in the book by the character. The language of the book presents to being multicultural ranging from the wealthy white neighborhoods to the black ghetto slums. This is evident when Gunnar states that "it had been a long time since I'd communicated with the white people" (Beatty 155). The choice of words of this character is alluring to the reader and adds beauty to the character development. The book also depicts racial diversities and gets one into the head of the characters helping in the understanding the themes of the book. Stallings states that the book of The White Boy Shuffle poses a memoir of a reluctant new hero, Gunnar. The novel started with the earliest memories of Gunnar when he was a black juvenile and exploits of the hilarious chronicles that make him become a young adult (Stallings 17). Gunnar makes a description of the happy moments he had while in Santa Monica. According to him, he was a "funny, cool black guy" (Beatty 45). In the school, Gunnar is faced with the issues concerning the multicultural aspects as all the students in his school are white. The teachers of the school also appear to be racial as they fail to recognize Gunnar due to his skin color. Fears arise in Gunnar's mother that her children had lost a personal touch with their black heritage, and thus she decided to move them to a ghetto in Los Angeles. The family speaks and talks differently from the other residents in the area. The events that occur in the Hillside changes Gunnar. Notably, he notices that he has a natural talent in playing basketball.

Gunnar's Transformation and Dialect

The discovery of basketball talent changes his personality, and he ends up becoming a friend to the young and most feared gangsters in the Hillside. The reader can note that even though from the surface the character of Gunnar presents to have become assimilated into the culture of the Hillside, he manages to keep his intellect and even graduates from high school. The character develops when he becomes fame as being the best basketball player (Stallings 9). His association with the Hillside residents makes him change and get involved in several illegal activities. Gunnar develops into becoming a bad character in the mind of the reader, and he is turned to the authorities for his illegal dealings. When he finishes high school, his family immediately arranges his marriage and Gunnar develops into becoming a husband and an adult. He attends Boston University, and his fame exponentially grows spinning his life out of control. The dialect of Gunnar also changes when he changes the environment and thus adds to his character development (Stallings 39). The reader notes that Gunnar speaks improper English while the family lives in Santa Monica. When he moves to the Hillside in the ghetto community, he constantly uses colloquial speech, and he does this to fit into the new community. Notably, Gunnar tries to be an all-American and a gang member. He tries to ignore his black identity and even avoids the black people. The author writers that "White Gunnar would say things like 'no waaaay, duuuude', tuuuubular biiiitchin to the max and totally fucking raad'" (Beatty 38). The use of Gunnar character helped the author to bring out the themes of racism, identity, and crime. His development becomes fundamental to the story's plot development.


Indeed, Beatty presents himself as a great writer who employs all the elements of fiction in his book. Undoubtedly, the elements of plot and character development were heavily used in the book, and through these aspects, the reader appreciates the story. The book is enigmatic and educative to the reader. Gunnar makes one note that crime is unacceptable in society and results in legal actions.

Works Cited

Beatty, Paul. The White Boy Shuffle. 1st ed., New York, Picador, 2014.

Stallings, L. H. Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle Literary Analysis. African American Review, vol 43, no. 1, 2009, pp. 99-116. Johns Hopkins University Press, doi:10.1353/afa.0.0001.

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