Cofer and Staples Discussion Questions

1. Staples’ essay was published in the mid-1980s and has since been widely anthologized. How do you account for its popularity? In your response, consider the way it is written, the points Staples has to make, and the essay’s relevance to today. Do you think this popularity is justified? Why or why not?

2. Rather than confront the fears and prejudices of the strangers they encounter, Staples and Cofer explains that they go out of the way to accommodate them. How do they do so? Why do they do so? How do you respond to their actions and motives?

3. Are there times that you have made a stranger uncomfortable because of the way you “alter space”? How did you respond? Alternatively, were there times you have judged others as threatening solely because of their appearance? Were your responses justified? Do you think people tend to mistrust one another based too much on appearance?

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