Short Story #365: Red Bonnet by Lindsay Patterson

Title:  Red Bonnet

Author:  Lindsay Patterson

Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The neighborhood is shocked when Granma Jo gets up and walks one day.  The narrator witnesses this and so do others but Granma Jo's daughter and her husband find the story completely unlikely.  Despite the narrator's insistence, the daughter disregards and is angered by the suggestion.  More people witness this and bring this to the daughter but since she never sees it, she continues to insist that everyone is lying.  After trying to get her to walk in front of the daughter, people soon give up and things go back to normal for a while.  One day in August, the narrator finds Granma Jo is up and moving about, ready to go to town.  The narrator walks with her through the heat and they perform some tasks in town.  When it is time to go, they get onto a bus and then Granma Jo's give out on her and she tries to sit in the front row.  The bus driver throws them off when they refuse to move to the back.  They catch a ride home with someone else.  However, the action gained a lot of attention and the white folks in town came to the daughter's house and called names at Granma Jo for sitting in the wrong part of the bus.  They eventually disperse but when the narrator is sleeping that night, she smells smoke and they discover the daughter's house is on fire.  Later, they only discover two bodies.  They never find the third but the narrator says she regularly sees Granma Jo out at night with her red bonnet walking around.  

I wasn't sure where the story was going at first.  It seemed like just a strange tale about an obstinate grandmother.  However, once they introduced the bus and her trying to sit at the front, it became quite intriguing as another means of talking about race and society.

Short Story #365 out of 365
Rating:  (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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