(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“White Angel” is the story of the coming of age of two brothers. The nine-year-old narrator, Robert Morrow, enjoys a close and happy relationship with his sixteen-year-old brother, Carlton. Their parents, both teachers, had several children between Bobby and Carlton, but only these two have survived.

The white angel in the story’s title refers to a monument in the graveyard behind the Morrow’s unpretentious tract home. Bobby and Carlton often enter the cemetery because they have hidden a bottle of whiskey in the veranda of what Bobby calls a “society tomb.” They go there to smoke pot and drink from their stash.

Carlton also drops acid, taking it with his orange juice in the morning as his mother prepares breakfast. He shares his acid, called windowpane, with Bobby, although, ever protective, he limits Bobby to half the dose he himself takes. Thanks to Carlton’s tutelage, Bobby considers himself the most criminally advanced nine-year-old in the fourth grade.

The boys’ mother, suspecting Carlton’s involvement in illicit drugs, is uneasy because police officers drive past their house, stop, make notes, and then go on. She attempts to worm information out of Bobby, but he denies that his brother takes drugs. He walks away from his mother to avoid further confrontation, but she pursues him, demanding that he not walk away from her.

Minutes before, Bobby had come from the cemetery, where he unexpectedly encountered Carlton and his girlfriend in the process of losing their virginity. Bobby hovered behind the white angel monument. Carlton saw him there and was startled but eventually winked and continued his impassioned lovemaking.

Both Bobby and Carlton are captivated by the memory of Woodstock, which...

(The entire section is 723 words.)