Posted in Short Stories

Langston Hughes: One Friday Morning

Deal Me In 2021 – Week 19

…Nancy Lee did not hesitate in her choice of a color for the possible frame, since she could still see her picture clearly in her mind’s eye – for that picture waiting for the blue frame had come out of her soul, her own life, and had bloomed into miraculous being with Miss Dietrich’s help.

Langston Hughes is quickly becoming one of my favorite short story writers and “One Friday Morning” moves him another step in that direction.

He develops the character of Nancy Lee, a high school art student, with the same type of artistic descriptions of Nancy that she uses to describe her artwork. Nancy is deserving of the top art award and almost gets it. The reason she doesn’t get it has nothing to do with her artwork itself.

In her painting, Nancy Lee includes an American flag. She also knows there will be an American flag at the award ceremony. Many, by today’s standards, may see Nancy Lee’s faith in the flag as idealistic and even a little naive.

Without explicitly asking the question, Hughes (and Nancy Lee) ends the story wondering if the hope this flag stands for is real. Hughes (and Nancy Lee) hesitantly moves forward thinking it is.

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 Queen of Spades for Week 19 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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