What is the role of humor in the story "Brownies"?

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The role of humor is "Brownies" is largely to provide irony as things are different than what the reader expects.

The largest source of ironic humor in the story is how the main troop of girls builds up the troop of white girls as their enemies. Arnetta explains to the girls that she heard the white Brownies call another black girl, Daphne, a racial slur. She pushes them to get revenge on the girls of Troop 909. It isn't easy for them to do so, however. The girls always have a chaperone; they come to find out that the girls are mentally challenged and likely didn't even use the racial slur. This is ironic humor because it's different than what was expected throughout the buildup of the story.

The humor in the story helps offset the serious topics and conclusion of the tale. Laurel, the narrator, learns hard lessons about the ugliness of the world during her experiences. However, the reader is able to find relief in the moments of ironic humor that show things aren't exactly what they expected.

When the girl accused of saying the racial slur is revealed to be nonverbal, it exposes the prejudice of the other girls but is also amusing for the reader. It draws attention to the fact that the prejudice Arnetta claimed wasn't real but that Arnetta's prejudice was real. The humor helps frame the serious lessons and information in the story and keeps it amusing so that a reader will want to continue reading.

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