(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Aunt Munsie is the town character, an old black woman who makes her way daily through the streets of town pulling a small wagon in which she collects slop to feed her pigs. Sometimes she stops traffic when she enters the square. She walks in the middle of the street, and most townspeople, when driving in town, simply call out to her until she moves out of the way. Only newcomers to town and ill-mannered high-school boys ever toot their horns at her.

As she makes her daily rounds, stopping at the houses of white women who hand her packages of garbage scraps for her slop wagon, she often calls out, “What you hear from ’em?” Her question is misunderstood by people who do not know her. Some even think she is an old beggar woman who calls out, “What you have for Mom?” Aunt Munsie knows these people laugh at her behind her back, but that does not bother her. She considers them ignorant people of “has-been quality.”

The white patrons who know Aunt Munsie understand that her question is related to her history with the Tollivers, a prominent family in town. They know that she single-handedly raised the Tolliver children after their mother died. She wonders when Will and Thad, her favorites among the children, plan to return from Memphis and Nashville, where they have successful careers, and take up residence in Thornton, their hometown.

Thad and Will have made unannounced visits to Aunt Munsie’s house separately over the...

(The entire section is 551 words.)