Short Story #363: A New Day by Charles Wright

Title:   A New Day

Author:  Charles Wright

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Lee takes a new job that he hopes has a better return on his time and investment than his current job.  He is concerned about whether it will come through in all the ways that he hopes, but he decides to go out for the position.  The job is with Mrs. Davies, someone the family used to work for in the south, which has Lee a bit hesitant as he anticipates some of the same issues to follow that plagued the south.  He goes to the hotel where Mrs. Davies will be staying and knocks on her door.  She lets him in and introduces himself.  She gives him some orders and they go for a drive before he prepares her meal.  Slowly, Lee learns her preferences and idiosyncrasies.  He is dismissed to go have his lunch.  While there, he hears her scream out the N word.  In the midst of his meal, Lee tries to process what's going on.  He tries to ignore it and continue his meal when she yells it again.  Lee is challenged by the sound and filled with both rage and helplessness.  After a third time, he manages to drink his beer, eat, and smoke a cigarette.  Then he finally goes to inquiry about her call.  She says she did call him and that she believed they would get along well because she appreciates people who can think before they answer.   

I found this to be one of the heavier tales that I've read.  Lee has clearly worked hard and his job with Mrs. Davies seems like a good move forward but seems so clearly a step back too.  Though she hires him at the end, it's hard to say that it is a good thing for Lee who has had to swallow his self-respect in order to keep  from doing something bad.  

Short Story #363 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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