He Also Loved by Claude McKay, 1928
The magic trick:
Never explicitly characterizing the nature of or motivation behind the relationship between Jericho and Rosalind
“He Also Loved” is a story about a pimp and his prostitute. We think. Maybe. Probably? It’s never explicitly expressed as such. And that’s the key to the effect. The relationship between Jericho and Rosalind isn’t anything simple. They’re lovers, they’re friends, they’re business partners. They’re generous and kind, they’re sinners and selfish. They’re depraved, they’re devoted. Even as the narrative winds down its emotional decline into despair, you’re never totally sure what is motivating their emotions. Which only makes it all the more heartbreaking. And that’s quite a trick on McKay’s part.
“I don’t know how we’ll make out without money,” Jerco whined. He was sitting in the old Morris chair with his head heavy on the left hand.
“You kain pawn my coat,” said Rosalind. “Old man Greenbaum will give you two hundred down without looking at it.”
“I won’t put a handk’chief o’ yourn in the hock shop,” said Jerco. “You’ll need you’ stuff soon as you get better. Specially you’ coat. You kain’t go anywheres without it.”
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