Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
The story is divided into five distinct sections. The first opens on a hot day, as four adolescent African American boys laugh and play in the woods, singing and joking about sexually related matters and tussling and rolling around in the grass like young pups. In the second section, they arrive at a swimming hole, where they are determined to swim despite its no-trespassing sign, which clearly tells them that “Ol man Harvey don erllow no niggers t swim in this hole.” After playfully frolicking in the water, the boys dry themselves in the sun—black and naked. Their innocence is accentuated by the black winged butterfly hovering near the water, the droning of a bee, and the twittering of sparrows. As the sun dries their skins and warms their blood, they laugh nervously about the risk they are taking, when a white woman suddenly appears.
This woman’s sudden intrusion destroys the boys’ innocent frolic, forcing them to scramble about, hiding their nakedness and trying to get at their clothes behind where the woman is standing. The woman screams, calling for her husband. As Big Boy dashes for the clothes, he is as frightened as the woman is and stops three feet from her. Just then, her husband, Jim, arrives; he is wearing an army officer’s uniform and is carrying a rifle. He immediately shoots Lester and Buck; the boys appear to be headed for his wife, but they are actually running toward Bobo, who is holding their clothes. When Jim points his...
(The entire section is 853 words.)
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