Student Question

What is the importance of the Troop 909 leader in "Brownies"?

Quick answer:

The leader of Troop 909 is a watchful guardian of her troop, and she instinctively knows when to show up to prevent trouble. She also understands the difficulties that her girls face and will speak up when needed to defend them.

Expert Answers

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The first time the leader of Troop 909 becomes an important character is at lunchtime on the second day of camp. Arnetta eyes out the white girls from Troop 909 and wants to attack them in retribution for them having allegedly referred to Daphne, one of the black girls, as a “n*gger”. However, the fact that the troop leader is with the girls of Troop 909 make an attack impossible.

Later, when the black girls decide to ambush Troop 909 in the bathroom and Octavia decides that the white girls are “retarded,” the white girls’s troop leader shows up in the bathroom. She tells her girls, who are feeling very intimidated, that everything is going to be all right. At that point, Mrs. Margolin arrives and assures the Troop 909 leader that the black girls will apologize and will later be disciplined by their parents.

The Troop 909 leader is more than an attentive guardian who shows up in all the right places at all the right times. She is also a defender of the challenges her girls face, telling Mrs. Margolin that some of the girls have a disorder called Echolalia, which means they repeat what they have heard. Thanks to their Echolalia, she claims, some of her girls will repeat words that they have heard without being able to control it. Their use of a racial slur may well have been unintentional.

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