Posted in Short Stories

Chester Himes: Mama’s Missionary Money

Deal Me In 2021 – Week 18

He wouldn’t think what was going to happen when it was all gone. He was the king of the neighborhood. He had to keep on being king.

Just like last week’s story, there is an unusual charm and beauty in Chester Himes’ “Mama’s Missionary Money”. As the reader, we get to revel along with young Lemuel in his getting to be “king of the neighborhood.” Himes draws us into this innocence that enjoys having money to go to the movies, to pay for others to go to the movies, to buy ice cream for friends, to buy new baseballs and mitts. This innocence also only revels in the present day without thinking that the money is going to run out and that Lemuel would eventually be found out – and he is eventually found out.

While it lasts, though, it’s glorious! For Lemuel and the reader!

This story is included in Black American Short Stories: A Century of the Best edited by John Henrick Clarke. I read it when I selected the Three of Clubs for Week 18 of my Deal Me In 2021 short story project. Check out my Deal Me In list here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

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