Posted in Short Stories

Rosellen Brown: How To Win

Deal Me In 2020 – Week 39

Rosellen Brown’s short story “How To Win” is quite remarkable in the way it gets the reader to change their mind about the protagonist narrator.

Margaret is the mother of Christopher. While we never get an actual diagnosis (the story was published in 1975), Christopher appears to suffer from some sort of behavioral disorder. As Margaret describes her life with her son, we initially think she is simply an overwhelmed new mother with a rather active kindergartener. We also may even think she is exagerrating much the way her husband, Howard, does.

As she gets closer to taking Christopher to school, we see what those outside of Christopher’s family see and realize Margaret is not exaggerating and we begin to feel guilty ourselves about what we thought of Margaret. We even get through the guilt and feel the anger and frustration that Margaret feels at a school and society that refuses to acknowledge those who can’t simply fall in line:

Every day they walk on his neck, I see that now, but he will never tell me about it. I weep but cannot move.

This story is included in The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. I read it when I selected the Ten of Spades for 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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