Short Story #351: The Stick Up by John Oliver Killens

Title:  The Stick Up

Author:  John Oliver Killens


Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The narrator is enjoying himself while taking a walk through the park.  He observes the different sites and people enjoying the day as well.  When walking back home near the park exit, a large white man blocks his way and tells him it's a stick up.  The man then says he's only joking but hopes the man can give him some change.  The narrator says he doesn't have change to offer and continues to walk.  The man persists, putting his arm around the narrator and insists that he's not like other bums.  The narrator grows frustrated at the man's insistence but the man pulls out a picture of his family.  The narrator continues to give cues that he needs to go but the man isn't listening.  He makes a plea about them being together and fighting against the North Vietnam.  Finally, the narrator insists he must go and walks to the corner.  The white man makes a derogatory comment about the narrator and with that, the narrator leaves.


Killens sets up the story so that what is supposed to be an enjoyable engagement in Central Park becomes the center for racial and social strife.  That the white man cannot support himself and jumps upon one group (Vietnamese) to go after another (African American) touches upon some of the ways in which minority groups are played against one another by the dominant group.  
Short Story #351 out of 365
Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

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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