(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Kim, an African American woman in her early twenties, is explaining to someone that it is her roommate Bertha’s fault that she is late. Kim was politically conservative until she became friends with Bertha, a black activist. Under Bertha’s influence, Kim has grown her hair out into an Afro and has stopped getting involved with white men. This ideological decision, however, has cost her money, for she had been receiving some financial support from white men. Now that she has no income, Bertha suggests that she get a job; however, Kim decides to go on welfare instead.

When the caseworker discovers that Kim’s parents both work at the welfare office, she angers Kim by huffily announcing that she is not eligible. As Kim chases the caseworker down the hall, her mother comes down the hall crying. Kim tries to convince her mother that it is important to the black revolution that she get welfare, but her mother orders her to either go to graduate school or get a job. Kim is shocked because her mother usually goes along with whatever she wants to do. Her mother, however, says that she has read all of the black revolutionary literature Kim has given her and listened to her many speeches, and now it is time for Kim to listen to her.

Kim calls her father to take her to lunch. When she complains about her mother’s orders, he agrees that it is not fair and says her mother never should have said such a thing—Kim should simply get a nice job and not even worry about going back to school. Her father patiently explains that if she wants to improve black people’s lives, she must set a good example. He criticizes the black leaders whom she admires because they have never held real jobs requiring them to punch a time clock. Her lunch ruined, Kim goes home to type her résumé.

After making several typing errors, she stretches out on the floor and dozes off. She dreams of a university chasing her down the street; as she runs away, she is...

(The entire section is 803 words.)