By The Way Of Morning Fire by Michael Weaver, 1983
The magic trick:
Providing two inciting incidents, not one, to foster change in the protagonist
The Moses Lee character we meet at the beginning of this story, walking his siblings to school, is very different from the Moses Lee who hitchhikes his way into adulthood at the end of the story. Clearly something significant must happen in between to spawn such a change.
The story is not content to merely offer just one inciting action. Instead it shows two dramatic events. Either would have been enough, I believe, to warrant Moses Lee’s decision, but having both only adds power to his transformation. And that’s quite a trick on Weaver’s part.
Lonnie Ingram was the dullest of the six boys of Old Man Ingram. The other five were well established in their own lines of work, either some profession or government office in the county. Moses Lee had heard that one of them had a statewide office. But Lonnie was hateful as a snake and extremely moody. He would often lash out against whoever happened along when he was low. Sometimes it was his father, but more often the victim was a poor soul who could ill afford to retaliate. After Lonnie had placed the Prince Albert on the counter, Lincoln Thomas asked him about the two Coca-Colas.
Leaning over the counter on his fists, Lonnie slowly reminded him, “Lincoln, you know damn well that’s a white man’s drink.”
Lincoln was taken aback. He had been concentrating on the lecture he was preparing to deliver to Moses Lee about the importance of the company a young man keeps, how there were many different kinds of women, and about the important power money wielded in most circles. He had been busy sorting all the thoughts that swirled inside him when Lonnie wiped the slate absolutely clean. It had been a good five years since Old Man Ingram had stopped insisting that blacks buy orange or grape – anything but Coca-Cola. He looked immediately at the door and saw the shadow of the old monarch brushing a freckled hand past his face.
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