Hecker's protagonist, Rosaura evokes empathy among readers. Certainly, the circumstances of her life and the situation around which the story revolves may be alien to the reader but by expressing Rosaura's simplest dreams and pleasures, Hecker incites identification with her. The daughter of a maid who, despite her mother's constant efforts to remind her of the limitations of her socio-economic status, looks upon those around her with simple innocence, Rosaura's acceptance of others leads her to assume their reciprocal acceptance of her. From the outset of the party, however, not to mention the events which followed, it was evident that there was no such acceptance. The little girl with the bow, Luciana's cousin, refuses to believe Rosaura's claims of friendship with her cousin and throughout much of the party, she is treated as a helper, not s an invited guest. The fact that she does not see this bit, instead, takes pride in being treated that way, believing it a testament to the closeness of her relationship with the family, Rosaura's innocence evokes our empathy because, suddenly, her experiences become ours and her naivety or gullibility become ours. Readers do not just sympathize with Rosaura but they empathize with her, feel her excitement throughout the party and, eventually feel her hurt and humiliation.
Ironically, even as readers empathize with Rosaura, they sympathize with the story's supposed protagonist, Senora Ins. Possibly, this is largely die to the fact that Senora Ins meant no harm and indeed, definitely did not intend to hurt Rosaura. Certainly, she did not treat her as an invited guest and singled her out throughout much of the party but she did not do so out of malice but under her assumption that this was the norm - after all Rosaura was the maid's daughter. At the end of the party, when she offers Rosaura's mother the money instead of presenting Rosaura with the little gifts she was handing out to the other children, she truly believed that she was helping and was being understanding. From her point of view, she was giving them something which they, Rosaura and her mother would consider of greater and, definitely more practical, value. Her confused and flustered reaction to the response which her offer elicits establishes that she had the best intents in mind and, thus evokes our sympathy.
Hecker's story may span only a little over three pages but it is packed with meaning about how humans perceive of one another and how the different social classes define their relations to one another. As Hecker explains, as much as the very nature of these relations may hurt, no one is in the right and no one is in the wrong; it is simply the way things are. Indeed, by presenting this theme in such simple and clear terms, Hecker allows readers to feel for the two parties - for both sides.
Packer similarly allows her readers to feel for, and understand the two parties involved in a supposedly antagonistic race-relationship. Towards the African-American Brownie troop members we feel empathy and, towards the end, a deep sympathy for the Caucasian members of brownie Troop 909.
Empathy for Troop 909 is incited by the author's brief, although profound glimpses into their lives. They are outsiders, both within the context of the white-dominated larger community within which they live and their family circle. This