This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Cicada” by Camille Acker. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the text

Title: “Cicada” (2018)
Author: Camille Acker
Genre: Short story

Camille Acker is an author from Washington DC, USA. She has taught writing workshops at several universities and institutions and her work has appeared in numerous publications. Her short story “Cicada” was published in Acker’s debut collection Training School for Negro Girls in 2018.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 


Cars are one of the symbols in the story. Ellery’s family does not have a car and they have to take the bus or be driven around by Ms. Anita when she is available and willing to do so. The family’s lack of a car symbolizes their poor financial situation. When Ellery wins, she tries to give her five-hundred-dollar prize to her parents so they may buy a car, which shows she wishes to help improve the family’s financial situation. 

In contrast, Lori’s family drives an expensive car: “ ‘Now, that’s a beautiful thing right there. Never seen that model in that color,’ her father said. He leaned down and said very near Ellery’s ear, ‘One day soon, we’ll be riding in that.’ ” Here, Lori’s ...

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