“Jesse” is a short story written by Joy Booth. It was published in 2012. It follows a girl through a few episodes of her life spreading out over twenty-two years.
All the snippets of her life work as a way to explain how she came to name her son Jesse. Despite that, it also touches on the theme of racial segregation and racisms, which was very valid around the ’60s.
I will dive more into this theme later in the essay. Besides the theme, I will also be emphasizing setting, narrator, characterization and message.
The story is told through the use of a first-person narrator. That is determined by the use of the word “I” throughout the story. This only allows the reader to be given information from the narrator’s eyes and thoughts.
This gives a good idea of who the main character is. The main character is female, which we learn by the way she refers to herself as queen:
“He is tall and I feel like a queen of the world looking at the mill from so high up.” (ll. 66-67) and because she ends up pregnant: “I’m twenty-seven, home visiting, my belly just beginning to swell with my first baby.” (l.124).
We are not told the girl’s name. The story follows her through twenty-two years of her life. She is religious and attends both church and Sunday school.
Her childhood can be referred to as a tough childhood. She hated the name Jesse when she was younger because the only person, she knew who was called Jesse killed himself and made her afraid of him.
She is taught that black men are rapists and that they are not as good as the whites. However, after meeting her father’s friend Jesse, who is a black man
the narrator becomes open-minded and sees Jesse as the man he is inside and not what society deems him to be because of his skin colour.