Short Story #357: Mother To Son by Conrad Kent Rivers

Title:  Mother To Son

Author:  Conrad Kent Rivers

Summary

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The story begins with an officer escorting Minnie Peoples into a room.  She is clearly distressed and the reader soon discovers that she's been called in to identify a body that might be her son.  The officers are hoping that this will be an easy identification and they can go home as their shift is ending.  However, Minnie insists that it isn't her son.  The officers try to verify this and she insists that it isn't.  In fact, she continues to insist this after they have relented.  She also remarks that one of the officers was the first African American officer on the police for and he is a "credit to your race."  The officers ask why the boy had a picture of her on him and she explained that there were many photos of her made when she was running for a competition in a newspaper. Finally, the officers order the morgue to move the body into the section for unidentified bodies.


Reflection

The story hints at much without fully telling what is going on.  The officers can hear a superior officer lecturing about corruption in an adjacent room to the graveyard shift and they themselves are eager to be done with the place.  Minnie fiercely claims the body isn't her child but one can't but wonder what her sigh represents at the end of the story: relief or further angst.
Short Story #357 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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