An author can only partially structure an experience in an attempt to elicit a desired response from the reader, for there are two types of readers an author must consider: the implied reader and the actual reader. The implied reader is “assumed and created by the work itself” whereas, the actual reader brings his/her own experiences to the text and thus each reader takes away a different message from a text (MacMannus, para 1). Du Bois's narrative, “A Mild Suggestion”, attempts to ensure a certain response, from the reader, by including a description of the passengers' reactions to the colored man's story, but to some degree, the effects on the reader vary depending on the experiences he or she brings to the text. However, without this
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In addition, the reader certainly does not want to be associated with the Woman who is presented as a weak follower. Time and again, she postures in hopes of gaining the Southerner's approval. As an ally to the Southerner, she is being chosen and not doing the choosing, so consequently, she is easily swayed and the reader disassociates from the Woman. The reader would prefer to be thought of as someone is with convictions and values and should shun the Woman for displaying none of her own. Women readers of the time would be discontent with her presentation because she reacts as the stereotypical female, unable to think for herself, overly concerned with the dominant view as represented through the Southerner. The result is that the reader does not want to identify with either the Southerner or the Woman and in fact rejects them both.
The impact of the Westerner’s reaction on the reader must also be considered. The Westerner’s initial reactions are also important in putting his final reactions in context. At the beginning, he mumbles to the New Yorker about not being able to "account for (her poor) tastes” (92) when referring to the Little Old Lady. This comment casts him in a negative light because he criticizes someone who has been characterized with words associated with weakness and feebleness. This reinforces the sympathy for the underdog, in this case,