Chapter 36 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 524

The Sunday Cab

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One morning Jerry is hooking Jack up to the cab when a gentleman walks into the yard. He wants to make arrangements for Jerry to take his wife, Mrs. Briggs, to church on Sundays, as their church is now farther than she can walk. Jerry tells the man it would be illegal for him to drive on Sundays because he has only a six-day license. Briggs offers to change the license, but Jerry is still not interested.

He used to have a seven-day license, but working on Sunday was simply too much strain on both him and his horses. He missed having the day with his family and going to church; for the past five years, he has taken Sunday as a day of rest. Briggs continues to make his case, saying Jerry still would have most of the day with his family—and Mr. and Mrs. Briggs have always been very good customers. While Jerry is grateful for their trust and is willing to do what he can for them, he will continue to give himself and his horses a day of rest. Briggs walks away in a bit of a huff.

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Latest answer posted November 21, 2011, 8:08 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

Jerry calls his wife out to the yard and explains the offer just made to him, including the reality that the Briggses have been fair and honorable in all their dealings with him. They are his best customers. His refusal today is likely to lose them the Briggses' business, and he asks Polly’s opinion about the proposition. Polly speaks very slowly, telling her husband she would not want him to work on Sundays again even if Mr. Briggs paid him an outrageous sum for the job. She would rather they struggle together than not have her husband (and the children’s father) with the family on Sundays. That is exactly what he had told Briggs, Jerry says, and he assures his tearful wife that he will stick to his word.

Three weeks have passed; there has been no call from Mrs. Briggs for a cab. Soon the other drivers realize Jerry has lost his best customer and know why it happened. Some believe he is a fool, but most understand and agree with Jerry’s decision. Larry disregards the religious meaning of the Sabbath; he is willing to make a profit at any time. Religious people, he says, are no better than others. Jerry tells him religious people do not always live as they should, but each man is responsible for his own soul.

Finally, Jerry says people expect them to work on Sundays because some of the drivers are willing to do so, and customers know someone will do business with them. If all the Sunday drivers stopped driving on Sundays, there soon would be no one asking for them. Larry wonders how people would get to church, but Jerry points out that they would walk; and if the distance were too far, they would find a closer church: “If a thing is right, it can be done, and if it is wrong, it can be done without.” Good men and women will find a way.

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