identities paragraph


The police officer may have been uncertain about what may have happened next with the suspicious looking man, but was his spontaneous decision to shoot the man the right move? The short story “Identities” by W.D Valgardson portrays the emotions and responses that this police officer went through, and why race, gender, culture, and social class could all play a part in an individual’s judgement. The police officer witnessed an unshaven man, dressed in blue jeans going towards a telephone booth, surrounded with a gang of young adults with hair “glistens as though shellacked.” The man walked apprehensively towards to telephone booth on his way to leave a message to his wife, sticking to the side of his Mercedes, distracted by the group of young men and women. While preoccupied by the concern of the gang he sees in his distance, the man is stopped suddenly, being ordered to halt. He felt relief rather than fear as he had seen the police officers’ uniform. The man tried reaching for his wallet for a piece of identity, but the inexperienced police officer was too nervous, and inadequately trained, resulting in him making a rash decision to shoot the man. This act from the police officer can be viewed through many different lenses. One may have the impression that the police officer had a racist preconception towards the man, implying or assuming that the man may have been a person of colour. This could also be interpreted through the lens that since it was set in a run-down neighborhood, the police officer quickly assumed that the man was from the area, was dazzled by the Mercedes and was trying to steal the car or the belongings inside. One last lens this could be viewed from is that since it was an unkept, older looking man that immediately makes him a criminal, possibly, if he was not a man he wouldn’t have been shot so quickly. The police officer was trained poorly and should not have been out on the field himself, in an unfamiliar neighborhood that time of day. The police officer in W.D Valgardson’s short story “Identities” should not be justified for shooting the man as he was wrongfully trained and made a thoughtless decision, resulting in him taking a mans life.