Short Story #293: The Jockey by Carson McCullers

Title:  The Jockey

Author:  Carson McCullers


Photo of Carson McCullers.  Source: a big race, a jockey named Bitsy stands to the side in a dining room watching the room.  He keeps his eyes on one table that includes his trainer, a bookie, and the horse's owner.   He is clearly marked by his experiences.  The trainer spots him and the owner insists on inviting him over, even though the bookie believes the jockey's crazy. They talk about how his friend, another jockey, got seriously hurt on the track. Eventually, Bitsy comes over.  His demeanor is reluctant and angry.  He's purposely manner-less to the others.  The trainer keeps trying to rail him in and keep him behaved. His defiant position takes a turn to talking about his friend whom he explains that he just found out that they removed the case (6 months since the accident) and that one of his legs is two inches shorter than the other.  To this, his trainer delivers a line of faux empathy that enrages the jockey.  He decides to order more drinks though the trainer warns him about what it will do to him.  This doesn't stop him and he drinks a Manhattan.  While he's at the bar, the men continue to discuss Bitsy's actions and condemn them.  He returns to the table to bring up the discussion of his friend again, but the trainer tries to rail him in.  To this, he calls them Libertines and leaves.  They are largely speechless with his departure. 


There's a great contrast between the meal and the tension of the conversation and Bitsy's presence.  Additionally, the intersection of the bookie, the owner, and the trainer represent a triumvirate of power that control not only the horses' lives but the jockeys as well. This seems damning in that though Bitsy is an adult, he is infantilized by his names (Bitsy and "kid") and how people talk down to him. 

Short Story #293 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  10/1/2014
Source:  You can find the full text of this short story at this site.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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