A. A triptych is a set of three associated literary, artistic or musical works deliberately to be appreciated together. Serpell titled this text “Triptych” because she divided it into three parts to show three different point of views. It starts with part one which is “Summertime”. Part two is “Perseus” and part three is “What Was Said”.
This section of the text which is the first out of all three parts is told in the perspective of the 15-year-old black girl who was tackled by a white police officer. I believe this part was told first since she is the person who was attacked and she leaves the other perspectives for later to develop the conflict. She discusses what she is observing throughout the first part of the reading and states “The heat rises up, sings against the skin. Clothes fall off, swimsuits blossoming from beneath, in colors as neon and elaborate as the sunset to come. We dance and we dance. All of this beauty, all of this rolling, dipping brown flesh, like desert dunes in the shadow or desert dunes in the sun”. She is aware of her surroundings and notices “Frowning white ladies by the pool shaking their heads at us. Country-ass dudes with bellies hanging over their shorts, with that look in their eye. We catch snatches of words from their eye”. These people were being racist which obviously made her feel uncomfortable. The girl and her friends were just minding their own business and people still had something to say of course, according to the girls perspective which is first person point of view.
This section is told by the racist police officer who tackled the 15-year-old black girl. He uses imagery while describing the tragic incident. The police officer stated “And swiftly, once more, I plant her. Her snakes of hair, braided like whips, fling in my face. I trap them, a web beneath my palm. Her tender torso is wrapped in thin smooth cloth the color of raw sun, her slender arms are mere vines. I root her face. Down. Into the ground. I am on my knees now. I am kneeling on her”. He still views her as a threat even though she is an adolescent.
A3. “What Was Said”
In this part, the reactions from the people who were watching the incident took place. “What is wrong. You’re hurting her. Why are you holding her down for. Can you not. Why are you dragging her”. It was obvious to me that this part of the text was in the observers point of view because everyone was asking why he was tackling her.
Serpell telling this story in three different “lenses” lead us to think differently about the main conflicts because our focus is mainly on figuring out what perspective each part is being told from. It distracts me in a way from the main conflicts due to her continuous effort on making me feel that I’m actually in the scene because of how descriptive it is. I find Serpell’s writing to be creative and I actually wanted to just keep reading because it progressively got interesting throughout the story by using different perspectives.
B. Version 1 (my perspective)
Parties, parties, parties! That is what I thought my senior year would consist of but unfortunately Ms. Corona had to ruin that along with several other things for me. My friends and I wanted one last get together to wrap up senior year so we went to seaside for the week which I know is very basic. It was the four of us on our way to Seaside and I just felt tension in the car the whole way there. No one was talking, the music was low and it was just weird vibes. I looked to my friend to the left which is the friend that my whole essay is about. She told me to look at my phone. It said “you don’t understand what it’s taking inside me to not punch her in the face right now”. I was confused. What could have possibly happened now? Look at this picture Alex, this picture just can’t be real. She was saying this out loud just so the driver which was one of our “best friends” could hear. Jess was driving us to Seaside which was who was seen in the picture with Jess’s toxic boyfriend. Would you like to explain this picture Arianna, you conniving bitch! Jess what are you talking about? That isn’t me, I would never do that to you. Oh really? There is also more pictures and screenshots of texts with your little secret. I’m officially done with you and Alex is leaving with me. Good, he never loved you anyway. And that is when Arianna got her black eye. Let’s go Alex before I go to jail. How are we supposed to get home? I didn’t bring my car so there we were, waiting on the side of the highway as I watch a tumbleweed roll by.
B. Version 2 (my other friend who was watching everything happen point of view)
I am the friend that always ends up to be stuck between all of the fights. We arrived at Seaside and it was just awkward. I was waiting for the whole situation to calm down before I called Alex to see how Jess was doing. I couldn’t wait any longer and I know they were alone so I had to call. Jess answered Alex’s phone and says “I swear if this is Arianna I suggest you hang up the phone right now before your other eye turns black”. Relax, it’s Olivia. Oh hi Liv, tell that bitch to get lost! I asked where they were and they were still in the same spot we left them at so I sent them an Uber so they could go home and it wouldn’t be in my mind anymore. Arianna had no words, she just pretended like nothing even happened. This had to be one of the most awkward moments of my life.