The Test is a short story published in New York and was written by Angelica Gibbs in 1940. The short story takes place in Southern America and follows a girl named Marian. Marian is about to take her second driving test and is really nervous because she already got flunked one time before and she is lectured by the same inspector who flunked her the first time. She needs her drivings license to drive her employers children to and from school. But her driving lecture is not turning out the way she wanted.
The story takes place on a hot summer day of June in Southern America. Here our main protagonist Marian is taking her second driving test. Her employer Mrs. Ericson has gone with her for the day to look after her while she is driving. “It’s probably better to have someone a little older with you” says Mrs. Ericson to Marian (page 1 line 1-2). Marian was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania though she is of different skin colour (black). She seems calm and strict when she is talking to Mrs.
Ericson she replies to Mrs. Ericson with “Yes, Ma’am” (page 1 line 5). Though Marian seems calm when she is talking to Mrs. Ericson, she is not happy about the situation. Mrs. Ericson tries to calm her down by saying: “You drive beautifully, Marian” (page 1 line 16) and then further replying “now, don’t think of the last time.
Anybody would would slide on a steep hill on a wet day like that.” (page 1 line 16-17).Though Mrs. Ericson is backing Marian up, it still seems that she mistrust her, because Marian denies that she slipped down a steep hill (page 1 line 18) but Mrs. Ericson still says “People say that they want you to slip them a little something” (page 1 line 20). After they have driven past the suburban parts of the town, they arrive at the boulevard but only to find it crowded with cars headed for the beach.
At last they find a parking spot and they meet up with Marian’s inspectors. Both inspectors are wearing uniforms when they enter Marian’s car. Both inspector’s are presented as stereotypical Southern Americans. They immediate ask Marian bout her age and when she replies “27” (page 2 line 51) they respond to her by saying: “Old enough to have a flock of pickaninnies, eh?” (page 2 line 52).
Another example of them being racists is on page 2 line 73-79 where they ask her two read out a sign on the road. Marian reads it and one of the inspector’s says “you-all sho can read fine, where d’you learn to do that, Mandy?” (page 2 line 75) Marian replies “I got my collage degree last year” (page 2 line 76). “As the car crept up the slope of the bridge the inspector burst out laughing” (page 2 line 77).
The inspector mocks on Marian, thinking that it would be impossible for her to have a collage degree.Later on they make her pull the car over beside a curb. She makes a mistake and the engine stalls. “Now, mistress Mandy remember your degree” (page 3 line 83) says the inspector which makes Marian loose her temper and yells “damn you!” (page 3 line 84). People from Southern American are almost always given a racist look throughout the eyes of Hollywood, BBC, book writers and in this case: Short story writers. And that may explain why these two inspector’s are being racist in their behaviour towards Marian. When Marian returns to the parking lot she stares down to avoid eye contact with Mrs.
Ericson. Mrs. Ericson immediate realises what is going on and asks her “oh, Marian, again?” (page 3 line 91). Knowing her defeat, Marian nods her head and replies: “In a sort of different way”. How come did Marian not fight against the racist inspector’s? We all have a choice to say what we want to whom we want. But Marian was not a strong enough person to stand up against the inspector’s.
It is a common thing to avoid a fight and perhaps that is what she was trying to do. Because in the end the only choices we take in life is our own.