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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 574

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"We will make something to laugh at," said the Cavalier; "we will unmask to each other, and when we find each other first cousins, the laugh will come of itself."

The author begins the story with a masked ball that includes both white French creole and biracial characters. The masks emphasize the ways in which the society masks the truly close connections between white and biracial family members and the hypocrisy of doing so.

"There are so many Grandissimes," said the weary-eyed Frowenfeld, "I cannot distinguish between—I can scarcely count them."

"Well, now," said the doctor, "let me tell you, don't try. They can't do it themselves. Take them in the mass—as you would shrimps."

Doctor Keene tells Frowenfeld the story of the large Grandissimes family. Frowenfeld, as an outsider, remarks on the complexity of the family, and the doctor responds that the family itself cannot sort out its members, a commentary on the hypocrisy of trying to keep the white and quadroon, or biracial, members of the family apart.

"You must get acclimated," responded the Creole; "not in body only, that you have done; but in mind—in taste—in conversation—and in convictions too, yes, ha, ha! They all do it—all who come. They hold out a little while—a very little; then they open their stores on Sunday, they import cargoes of Africans, they bribe the officials, they smuggle goods, they have colored housekeepers. My-de'-seh, the water must expect to take the shape of the bucket; eh?"

In the quote above, Honoré Grandissime, who is biracial, tells Frowenfeld that New Orleans makes hypocrites out of everyone who comes there.

H-my young friend, when we say, "we people," we always mean we white people. The non-mention of color always implies pure white; and whatever is not pure white is to all intents and purposes pure black. When I say the "whole community," I mean the whole white portion; when I speak of the "undivided public sentiment," I mean the sentiment of the white population. What else could I mean? Could you suppose, sir, the expression which you may have...

(The entire section contains 574 words.)

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