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by Eugenia Collier
''Look , Bea fixed it for me--That's my pie--''
Buddy was the youngest in a poor farming family. His parents managed to raise enough money to send him to high school, unlike every other child in the family. He is smart and hard-working , and he was hopeful and determined enough to graduate with great marks. He went on to be the only one in the family to get a good job.
''I'm proud of you . . . I wouldn't have been anything at all except for you.''
''I loved school with a desperate passion, which became more intense when I began to realize what a monumental struggle it was for my parents and brothers and sisters to keep me there. The cramped, dingy classroom became a battleground where I was victorious.''
''And suddenly, the tears of laughter, toil, and love of a lifetime burst around me like fireworks in a night sky. For there, following a few steps behind, came Charley, proudly carrying a brown paper bag full of sweet potato pie.''
Charley is Buddy's loving older brother. He was determined that Buddy would be ''somebody'', and not just a poor farmer or preacher. He is kind-hearted and self-sacrificing , and he is stubborn when it comes to what he thinks is good for Buddy . He was with Buddy every step of the way, from birth to career success .
'''Charley, - still long and lean, still gentle-eyed, still my greatest fan..''' -Buddy
''Well, do Jesus-- it's Buddy! . . . Bea! Bea! Come here, girl, it's Buddy!''
''Buddy, you ain pressed out them pants right. . . Can't you git a better shine on them shoes?. . . Lord , you done messed up that tie! ''
''You ain gon be no poor farmer, Buddy. You gon be a teacher or maybe a doctor or a lawyer. One thing , bad as you is , you ain gon be no preacher.''
'Charley's eyes glistened . ''You hear that , Bea?'' he whispered. ''Buddy done spoke in front of all them professors!'' '
The general mood is happy and warm. The story is about familial love, and hope.
''From up here on the fourteenth floor, my brother Charley looks like an insect scurrying among other insects. A deep feeling of love surges through me. Despite the distance, he seems to feel it, for he turns and scans the upper windows, but failing to find me, continues on his way. I watch him moving quickly--- gingerly, it seems to me
---down Fifth Avenue and around the corner to his shabby taxicab. In a moment he will be heading back uptown.''
There are sad moments, however, when Buddy's family's harsh poverty is described.
''As the years passed, the economic strain was eased enough to make it possible for me to go on to high school. There were fewer mouths to feed, for one thing. Alberta went North to find work at sixteen; Jamie died at twelve.''
(Character vs Character)
Buddy and Charley arguing about Buddy's brown paper bag full of sweet potato pie
''You ain't going through the lobby of no big hotel carrying no brown paper bag''
''Man , you crazy! Of course I'm going-- Look, Bea fixed it for me-- That's my pie--''
(Characters vs. World)
Buddy's family struggling with poverty
'' ' Well , that's the crop.' She would look up at Pa at last. ' It'll do.' Pa's face would relax, and a general grin flitted from child to child . We would survive, at least for the present. ''
(Character vs. World)
Buddy overcoming poverty to get a good job as a teacher
''With glee I outread , outfigured , and outspelled the country boys who mocked my poverty . . . ''
Charley's flat in Harlem, and Buddy's family's home on the farm.
"The cheerful, impersonal tidiness of this room is a world away from Charley's walk-up flat in Harlem and a hundred worlds from the bare, noisy shanty where he and the rest of us spent what there was of a childhood.''
" --yet there is some mysterious epic quality about Harlem...As if in Harlem the very heart of Blackness pulsed its beautiful, tortured rhythms."
The Fifth Avenue hotel in
downtown New York,
Sweet Potato Pie (by Eugenia Collier) Plot Map
Introduction: Occurs chronologically last in the story. It involves Buddy in his hotel room, looking down out the window and spotting Charley in the street below.
Rising Action: Made up of mostly flashbacks of Buddy's childhood, and a flashback of Buddy's visit to Charley's flat earlier that day. The transition to the climax is Charley dropping Buddy off at the hotel.
Climax: Buddy and Charley arguing about the brown paper bag full of sweet potato pie. Charley wants to take it because he doesn't want Buddy to walk through the fancy hotel lobby carrying a brown paper bag.
Falling Action: Buddy gives in to Charley's insistence. He gives Charley the brown bag and walks into the hotel and towards the elevators.
Conclusion: Buddy turns around to see Charley right behind him, carrying the pie for him.