Posted in Short Stories

James McBride: Father Abe

Deal Me In 2021 – Week 6

I could simply say James McBride’s short story “Father Abe” is great story-telling – because it is. Going a little deeper, though, he uses such succinct dialogue between his characters to drive right to the point.

Sergeant Abe Porter, an African-American Union soldier toward the end of the American Civil War, converses with a young orphan and its this conversation that clears some things up for Porter at a time when nothing seems clear:

‘I ain’t got nar house. Nor land.’

‘What you got?’

‘Freedom, son.’

‘What’s that?’

As a result of these conversations, Porter acts upon a daring and radical and hopeful conclusion – one that the reader can’t help but applaud even if they don’t know the exact outcome.

This story is included in McBride’s collection Five-Carat Soul. I read it when I selected the Two of Hearts for Week 6 of my Deal Me In 2021 short story project. Check out my Deal Me In list here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

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