(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Newlyweds Joe and Missie May Banks frolic in their newfound marital bliss. Their Saturday afternoon routine is especially playful, as Joe comes home from his job at the local fertilizer plant lovingly to toss fifty-cent pieces at his young wife who has been busy preparing for his arrival. She has cleaned and scoured the house, its surroundings, and herself and has prepared Joe’s bath water for him to do the same before they settle down to a long afternoon of pleasure.

This particular Saturday afternoon, after the usual tossing of the money and Missie May’s playful rifling of Joe’s pockets to retrieve the candy kisses he always brings her, Joe has a surprise for Missie May. In addition their usual routine, Joe announces that he is taking his wife to town to the recently opened ice cream parlor to enjoy a treat. This visit will also give Joe an opportunity to show off his wife to the townspeople, especially to the proprietor of the ice cream parlor, Otis D. Slemmons, a recent arrival to the town and a showoff and braggart.

As they return home, Joe is excited over Slemmons’s apparent success and is clearly taken with the way that Slemmons shows off his gold pieces, how he wears fine clothes, and how he talks in a citified manner. Missie May, however, is more reflective about the encounter with Slemmons and begins to devise a plan by which she can get some of the gold pieces for Joe.

Some nights later, Joe comes home early from...

(The entire section is 588 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

The story opens with the description of a modest but cheerful house in an all-black community. Inside, Missie May, a young newlywed, rushes...

(The entire section is 903 words.)