"Old Dudley folded into the chair he was gradually molding to his own shape and looked out the window fifteen feet away into another window framed by blackened red brick. He was waiting for the geranium. They put it out every morning about ten and they took it in at five-thirty. Mrs. Carson back home had a geranium in her window. There were plenty of geraniums at home, better-looking geraniums. Ours are sho nuff geraniums, Old Dudley thought, not any er this pale pink business with green, paper bows."From these opening lines, it's easy to surmise Old Dudley isn't very happy in New York City. He agreed, in "a moment of weakness", to leave his home in a southern boarding house and move into the apartment his daughter shares with her family.
"The apartment was too tight. There was no place to be where there wasn't somebody else. The kitchen opened into the bathroom and the bathroom opened into everything else and you were always where you started from. At home there was upstairs and the basement and the river and downtown..."Now Old Dudley is lonely, isolated, and intimidated by the city. He resents the relaxed racial attitudes of the north and struggles with the fact that black people live in the same building as his daughter. The geranium's appearance on the windowsill each morning is the single constant in his life... until one day when it is no longer there. The ending is very moving.
Why has it taken me so long to discover Flannery O'Connor? I recently purchased The Complete Stories and my first inclination was to turn to "A Good Man is Hard to Find", but I decided to start at the beginning instead. "The Geranium" was Flannery O'Connor's first published story. It appeared in Accent: A Quarterly of New Literature in 1946 and was written as part of her six story Masters thesis project. Reading these stories in order will allow me to watch this great talent unfold. I really enjoyed "The Geranium"- you can read it here.
Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.