(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Faith explains that one day in her early forties, she became a long-distance runner, because she wanted to travel around the county, including the old neighborhood streets. One day Faith kisses her sons goodbye and travels to her childhood neighborhood, now populated primarily by African Americans. As she jogs through the area, she is suddenly surrounded by a few hundred African Americans, and there occurs a surreal, at times humorous, discussion of a number of unrelated subjects between Faith and the large crowd. A Girl Scout named Cynthia volunteers to take Faith to Mrs. Luddy, who lives in the apartment where Faith spent her childhood.

As they approach Mrs. Luddy’s residence, Faith becomes apprehensive and states that she no longer wants to see her old home. She lies to Cynthia, telling her that she does not want to see her mother’s house right now because her mother has died. The idea of her own mother dying terrifies Cynthia. She becomes lachrymose and reveals that her mother is her protector, who will not let the pushers and other dangerous people get her. Trying to reassure her, Faith tells Cynthia that the girl can come live with her and her two nearly grown-up boys if her mother dies. Apparently Cynthia has been warned by her mother that white boys have sinister sexual intentions, and she assumes that this “honky lady” has some perverse scheme in mind. She begins screaming for help, fearing that Faith plans to kidnap her. Hearing the...

(The entire section is 568 words.)

The Long-Distance Runner Summary

When “The Long-Distance Runner” begins, Faith Asbury is preparing to leave home for a longdistance run. She leaves her two sons and a...

(The entire section is 568 words.)