Short Story #352: The Pocketbook Game by Alice Childress

Title:  The Pocketbook Game

Author:  Alice Childress


Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Mildred appears to be on the telephone with Marge.  She explains that working as a house cleaner at different houses is a learning experience rather than just one because one witnesses many different things.  She explains that one of her clients, Mrs. E. has some strange ways about her.  In particular, whenever she is around, she holds tight to her big pocketbook as if Mildred would steal it.  After months of this, Mildred decides to call her on it but not directly.  Mrs. E. asks her to get the superintendent of the building.  She leaves but comes back into the room and says that she left her pocketbook.  She leaves and gets the superintendent.  Later, Mrs. E. says that she hopes Mildred doesn't think Mrs. E. distrusts her.  Mildred retorts that she would be suspect too of Mildred given how little Mrs. E. pays her.  


It's a short and quick story but so easily captures the tension that comes with being a minority in a culture that has historically misrepresented African Americans intentionally across media.  Mildred's retort captures so much of the hypocrisy within the system that both underpays and raises questions about the morality of minorities.
Short Story #352 out of 365
Rating: 4 (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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