Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day Fifty: "The Rockpile" by James Baldwin


A classic story of the fear and accompanying angst when a mom tells her child "just wait til your daddy gets home." Here, James Baldwin shows us a boy who goes out to fight on the neighborhood rockpile after his mother warned him not to. The rockpile of course can stand for so many things in a young black boy's life and in this story, it stood for temptation. And the lesson here is...when you give in, there's hell to pay and a lot of times, that starts with the wrath of the father figure, whoever that man may be.

The reader can feel the tension as the boy waits for his father's return from work and in a stroke of genius, Baldwin takes us right to the edge. The father is home. The "boy" is verbally chastized. But the story ends with an image of the toe of the father's black workshoe. Absolutely perfect and telling!

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