This Morning, This Evening, So Soon

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"This Morning, This Evening, So Soon" is a 1960 short story by James Baldwin, taken from the short story collection, Going to Meet the Man. The story was originally published in the September, 1960, issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

Plot summary[edit]

The Narrator is spending his last night in Paris with his family and his sister, who is visiting.

He then thinks back to the time he returned to America after his mother's funeral, and the way the Statue of Liberty made no sense to him, and people were treating him differently there.

He goes on to think back to the time when he was shooting Les Fauves Nous Attendent, and how the director had upbraided him for not playing it real. He then told him of the way a black man in America feels ostracised.

Back to his last night in Paris, the protagonist and Vidal go to a jazz joint, where his music is being played and a group of black Americans entice them to join them. They then all move to a pavement cafe, where Pete starts singing, and Boona joins them. As Vidal suggests moving to another club and thus discarding Boona, Ada invites him along. Later, Talley informs The Narrator that he saw Boona steal ten American dollars (in francs) from Ada's handbag. After the unresolved accusation, they all return to their houses. The Narrator picks up Paul from Mme Dumont, looking towards their voyage towards the United States.


  • The Narrator, the protagonist. He is a jazz singer and actor in a movie (played Chico). He lives in France with his family.
  • Paul, Chico and Harriet's son.
  • Mme Dumont, the concierge
  • Harriet, from Sweden.
  • Louisa, Chico's sister. She is from Alabama.
  • Uncle Norman, Chico and Louisa's uncle, from Alabama.
  • Jean Luc Vidal, a film director
  • Ada Holmes, the African American girl who invites Chico and Vidal to join her and her friends in the jazz joint.
  • Ruth, one of the African Americans.
  • Talley, one of the African Americans.
  • Pete, one of the African Americans.
  • Boona, a prize fighter, originally from Tunis.

References to other works[edit]

The story's title is a reference to the chorus of the traditional folk song "Tell Old Bill", which recounts the lynching of a man who does not heed the narrator's advice to "leave them downtown girls alone". [1]

References to actual history[edit]


  1. ^ Amine, Laila (2015). "The Paris Paradox: Colorblindness and Colonialism in African American Expatriate Fiction". American Literature. 87 (4): 739–768, 752. doi:10.1215/00029831-3329578. ISSN 0002-9831.