Posted in Short Stories

Lawrence Sargent Hall: The Ledge


Deal Me In 2020 – Week 16

There are many reasons I enjoy reading. One of them could be that I see put into words the things I can’t. In Lawrence Sargent Hall’s short story “The Ledge”, he zeroes in on an understanding at which I think most fathers and sons arrive whether they are able to explain it or not:

The boy did for the fisherman the greatest thing that can be done. He may have been too young for perfect terror, but he was old enough to know there were things beyond the power of any man. All he could do he did, by trusting his father to do all he could, and asking nothing more.

Hopefully, most fathers and sons don’t come to this understanding under as intense circumstances as the fisherman and his son do in this story. This is the second story in a row that I’ve read in which death is stared in the face. There’s more fear in this story than“The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. Also there’s more suspense and wondering on the part of the reader and less thinking on the part of the characters. Although the fisherman in this story and the writer in Hemingway’s probably both feel some sort of regret.

The story is set near Brown Cow Island off the coast of Maine on Christmas Day which makes this story the Christmas story that I usually include in my Deal Me In list just for the fun of seeing when it pops up. But I didn’t purposely include one this year because I just forgot and the title “The Ledge” didn’t really give any clue that this could in some way be tied to Christmas. The fact that it is only serves to make the story all the more intense.

“The Ledge” is included in The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. I read it when I selected the Queen of Spades for Week 16 of my Deal Me In 2020 short story project. Check out my Deal Me In 2020 list here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.



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