(Masterpieces of American Literature)

“The Lynching of Jube Benson” appeared in one of Dunbar’s last collections of short stories, The Heart of Happy Hollow (1904). The story, like many of his others, is set in the post-emancipation South and is written to uphold the humanity of the black race. As such, “The Lynching of Jube Benson” is perhaps his strongest piece of protest fiction.

In the library of a southern gentleman named Gordon Fairfax, Dr. Melville, a relatively young medical doctor, and Handon Gay, a young newspaper reporter, are discussing various issues of the day, one of which is lynching. Gay expresses the desire to see one; Fairfax does not necessarily want to see one but would not avoid one if such an opportunity arose; Dr. Melville adamantly insists that he would avoid one, because, he relates to his companions, he had seen and taken part in one some seven years earlier, the lynching of Jube Benson.

At the time of the lynching, Dr. Melville was recently out of medical college and had moved to Brandon to open a medical practice among the white and black residents. Soon after his arrival, he began to fix his attentions on the young, pretty Annie Daly, daughter of a prosperous townsman from whom he rented office space. During this time, Dr. Melville also met Jube Benson, the black man who worked for the Dalys and who was fiercely devoted to young Annie.

Jube Benson became Dr. Melville’s ally in his quest for the attentions of Annie...

(The entire section is 553 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Alexander, Eleanor. Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore. Albany: New York University Press, 2001.

Best, Felton O. Crossing the Color Line: A Biography of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, 1996.

Bone, Robert. Down Home: Origins of the Afro-American Short Story. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

Hudson, Gossie Harold. A Biography of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1999.

Revell, Peter. Paul Laurence Dunbar. Boston: Twayne, 1979.

Turner, Darwin T. “Paul Laurence Dunbar: The Rejected Symbol.” Journal of Negro History, January, 1967, 1-13.

Wagner, Jean. “Paul Laurence Dunbar.” In Black Poets of the United States from Paul Laurence Dunbar to Langston Hughes, translated by Kenneth Douglas. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973.