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This month I am participating in the A to Z blog challenge. http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

The challenge involves 26 posts in April, all somehow connected to the alphabet. My theme for the month is short stories. The Story Factory needs market research, of course, so I will be reading a short story for each letter of the alphabet and trying to learn some new techniques for my story writing. My lacks seem to be characterization and emotional experience, so I am mainly looking for stories to teach me those things. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments if you know of an amazing story. Another component of the challenge is the blog road trip, where we visit each other’s blogs, leave comments, etc. While I would like to visit a couple of blogs every day, it is more realistic to do Road Trips on Sundays. (Of course, my ongoing, 52 bad story challenge is still on, as well as the 2021 creative hours in 2021.

J is for … The Jockey by Carson McCullers

The Jockey is an interesting story dealing with a jockey, a trainer, a bookie, and a rich man(horse owner). The story deals with a jockey’s dilemma (obviously crucial in winning a race) and his relationship with other stakeholders. When another jockey has a serious (possibly career-ending) injury, our protagonist seems to be blaming the people who profit from the wins and losses in the field of horse racing.

The jockey is not treated well by the other men. He is, in their eyes, of value, much like the horse he rides. But as they do not bring the horse into the hotel dining room, no matter his performance on the track, neither do they invite the jockey to sit at the table when they see him enter the room. In fact, when the owner suggests they invite the jockey, the other men quickly shoot that idea down.

The jockey, dressed in his best clothing, takes it upon himself to sit down at the table anyway. He thrusts his humanity at them, even when they do not care to see it. McCullers does this subtly – the order of a drink, the refusal of food, (after all, he’s put on three pounds this month), the mention of his injured colleague. The jockey does not see the other three men as above him in station, but there is also a hint that while he does not see them as “great” men, he is still trying to convince himself of his own worth as well. There is a hint in the story that the three men at the table value the horses more than the riders; that a great horse is a rare find, but jockeys are disposable. The jockey is fighting that, but he does not get that far in the story, and is treated at best as an obstinate child.