‘In A House Of Wooden Monkeys’ by Shay Youngblood

Youngblood, Shay 1985

In A House Of Wooden Monkeys by Shay Youngblood, 1985

The magic trick:

Twisting the story’s initial assertions and assumptions so that everything looks completely different very quickly

Well, this is a very interesting story.

Things begin with the white notion of Christianity seemingly saving the day for a local woman struggling with childbirth. But then suddenly the day is not saved at all. The white notion of Christianity reveals itself to be inflexible, pompous, and even racist.

The story is simple and short like a fable but manages to take down the entire idea of proselytizing and missionary work. And that’s quite a trick on Youngblood’s part.

The selection:

Hill folk said Widow took her babies. The first one Widow drowned in a dream sack, told folk she dreamed Yate’s baby would be born dead, and it was. The second time, Widow strangled her baby with the mother’s string. Everyone knew Widow had done it. Widow was a toothless young woman who had come to Greenlove Mountain as a girl to live with her grandmother, a rootwoman, in a wood shack by the road. Her grandmother died shortly after she came and as she was strange and thought to be blessed of evil, no one would take her in. So she lived high up on the mountain. She got the name Widow by the birthmark shaped like a black widow spider she carried on her forehead and by her dark attitude and visions of death.

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