Analysis of a Short Story
“SWEET POTATO PIE”
by Eugenia Collier
Naima , Laily
A. Synopsis of the Story
Buddy was the youngest child in a Black poor family. They lived in poverty; their parents were only sharecroppers. The oldest brother Charley took important part in Buddy’s life. He became more father than brother. Because of the poor condition, education was almost ignored in Buddy’s family, but his parents and Charley encouraged him as a youngest child to continue his study. Moreover, Charley often says that Buddy must break the chain of poverty by education and becomes “somebody”
Buddy finished his school successfully and became a professor. When their parents were passed away; every child scattered and built their new family.
One day, Buddy had a professional meeting in New York, the city where Charley and Bea his wife were settled. He stayed in Fifth Avenue Hotel. Charley and Bea were exciting to find Buddy visit their home. Charley told that several months back he had picked up a kid from Buddy’s school, and Charley asked that kid whether he know Buddy or not. He told Charley that Buddy was the best teacher he had. But Charley did not tell that he is Buddy’s brother. He didn’t want Buddy’s students knew his brother isn’t anything but a cab driver. You’re somebody said Charley.
When Buddy went back to his hotel, Bea wrapped the sweet potato pie in brown paper bag and gave to Buddy. He was very happy. Charley was waiting for Buddy with his cab. They stopped a bit down the street from Buddy’s hotel. He invited Charley in, but Charley refused it. When Charley knew that Buddy carried a sweet potato pie, he asked Buddy to give it. Charley said “people in that hotel don’t go through the lobby carrying brown paper bag” Buddy cannot believe it, but finally he handed over his bag of sweet potato pie and let him go.
Buddy entered the hotel and still thinking of his lost snack and Buddy was very compassion when he realized that Charley carried brown paper bag full of sweet potato pie only behind him.
· Setting of Place : the 14th floor of Fifth Avenue Hotel
Harlem, New York
Charley’s apartment Lenox Avenue
· Setting of time : in the late afternoon to evening
· Socio-cultural setting : a great poverty of sharecroppers family, a hard life which full of struggle.
· Main characters : Buddy
Charley (Buddy’s brother)
· Minor characters : Father, Mother
Lil (Buddy’s sister), Alberta (Buddy’s sister)
Jamie (Buddy’s brother), Bea (Charley’s wife)
Mary (Charley’s daughter), Lucy (Charley’s daughter)
Jake (Lil’s husband)
· Exposition : From paragraph 1 to 2
· Complication : From paragraph 3 especially when Buddy begins to remain his childhood with Charley, to paragraph 30. In this part, the writer presented flashback story.
· Crisis : Paragraph 31 when Charley didn’t let Buddy entered the hotel carrying a sweet potato pie wrapped in a brown paper bag.
· Falling action : Paragraph 32 when Buddy thought about his lost snack and what Charley had done.
· Resolution : paragraph 33 when Buddy realized that Charley was carrying a brown paper bag for him.
E. Point of View : 1st person point of view / Limited omniscient
F. Symbol : The sweet potato pie is a symbol in this story—a symbol of love between Buddy and his brother, and a symbol of his former life.
G. Tone :Compassion, Sympathy
H. Theme : Sacrification in family life
· People should maintain the feelings of insight, wisdom, and compassion in family life
· People should be aware that education is a key to break the poverty
This story is very interesting and gives us many lessons about life. It teaches us to have more appreciation to our family. Moreover, this story depicts the crucial point that love can be shown greater than words can. Charley took the pie and did not mind being a “nobody” for his brother Buddy and followed him; it was really touching and showed caring. Therefore, it is possible for English teachers use this story as a material, but the language should be simplified so that the students understand.