The Gettin Place

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Thompsons have owned land in Treetown, the black section of Rio Seco, for several decades. Hosea Thompson, the stern patriarch of the family, awakens early one morning to the sound of white voices, gunshots, and the smell of burning. As he takes his rifle and goes to investigate, he remembers his childhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the day his father was killed in a race riot. Hosea fires upon a black jeep fleeing the scene, where one of the cars in his auto yard is aflame with two white women inside. Upon their arrival, police officers mistakenly shoot and critically wound Hosea.

While Hosea is in the hospital, another body is found on the Thompsons’ land, and Hosea’s sons try to figure out who is trying to set them up and why. Marcus, the youngest of the brothers, who lives “downtown” and works as a history teacher, is drawn back into the family’s world. His investigation reawakens his curiosity about the family’s past, which his father will not share. Trouble continues to grow when Marcus is called by his estranged sister to bring her back from South Central Los Angeles, where she had fled after being raped almost fifteen years earlier. Her fourteen-year-old son, Mortrice, wastes no time in assembling his own local gang and acquiring weapons to defend his new turf.

A death notice from Oklahoma arrives for Hosea, and he requests that Marcus drive him there, with Mortrice accompanying them. On the way, Marcus presses Hosea to reveal the past, and Mortrice also learns of this history of racial injustice and murder. Mortrice’s decision to defend his family’s land leads to an explosive showdown with the greedy developer who would take away everything the Thompsons have.