The Rockpile (short story)

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"The Rockpile" is a 1965 short story by James Baldwin, taken from the short story collection, Going to Meet the Man.

Plot summary[edit]

Whilst Roy and John are forbidden to play on the Rockpile as the other boys from the neighborhood do, Roy decides to go anyway once, asking John not to tell anyone as he will be right back. There he gets into a fight and gets hurt, starts bleeding. He is brought back into the house and as the father gets home, he tries to blame the woman and John for letting Roy go there. He favors Roy because he is his real son and John (stepson) serves as the scapegoat.

A theme of the story is alienation, and feeling neglected.

Characters[edit]

  • Elizabeth, the mother.
  • Gabriel, the father. He is also a preacher.
  • Roy, Elizabeth and Gabriel's son who gets hurt on the rockpile.
  • John, Elizabeth's elder illegitimate son.
  • Delilah, Elizabeth and Gabriel's daughter.
  • Paul, Elizabeth and Gabriel's son.
  • Sister McCandless

Mentioned[edit]

  • Richard, a boy who drowned in the Bronx river.
  • Aunt Florence. She lives in the Bronx. She is Gabriel's sister.

References to other works[edit]

Major topics[edit]

  • reckless boys
  • filial love
  • favoritism
  • dominance
      • These are not themes of the story because they do not express a full idea. Stated above are topics.*****