They Won't Crack It Open Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

A schoolteacher from a village close to Pusan, South Korea, Cho comes to the United States to further his education. Before reporting to campus, he decides to visit his American friend, Dick—a soldier who was stationed in South Korea during the Korean War. Dick often visited the blind children’s school where Cho was teaching and entertained students with stories about the United States. He told students that he came from a town where they had “the greatest show on earth” and once took a circus issue of Life magazine to show children its colorful pages. Cho described to the blind children what they themselves could not see: an elephant dancing, lions obeying their trainer, odd-looking animals with stripes, and the circus parade.

The blind students had trouble distinguishing the words “clown” and “crown.” Cho tried to explain the difference to them but to no avail. After one student with limited vision touched Dick’s big nose, the word “crown” stuck. Dick thereafter was known to the students as “Crown Dick.”

Cho is surprised that Dick is not at the bus station to meet him. He takes a taxi and discovers that Dick does not live in one of those homes “whose large glass windows seemed to hold an underwater richness,” homes with “shiny cars in the driveways and televisions inside.” Instead, he lives in a worn clapboard shed with a battered old car parked outside.

During the visit, Cho learns that...

(The entire section is 567 words.)