Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned
Redemption can be found throughout the book. Socrates, the main character, has spent twenty-seven years in prison for a violent crime that he committed. The legal system punished him for his crimes, but they did not attempt to rehabilitate him. While in prison, he committed more violent crimes than he committed before his incarceration. The Capricorn bookstore is what led Socrates to redemption, not prison. He is definitely a reformed man. He is now perceptive, compassionate and persuasive. Once he only acted on impulse, but now he reasons out what is right and what is wrong. He tries to do the right thing, and he guides others to make the right decisions through questions and rebuttals. "Crimson Shadow" Summary
The novel begins with the main character, Socrates Fortlow, going outside into the alley beside his home. Socrates is investigating why Billy, an old rooster Socrates considers his friend, is not crowing this morning. The sun is just coming up, and Socrates views the alley as almost pretty with the debris in the alley bathed in half-light. Socrates finds a boy, Darryl, standing in the alley with a cardboard box. The boy tries to run when Socrates confronts him, but Socrates stops him. Inside of the box is Billy. He is dead. Socrates forces Darryl to take the box containing the dead rooster into his tiny, rundown home. Socrates questions Darryl as to why he killed his friend. Darryl seems relieved when he finds out Socrates is talking about the rooster. Socrates forces Darryl to pluck the chicken and to sit there while he cooks the old rooster. "Midnight Meeting" Summary
Right Burke, Stony Wile, Howard Shakur and Markham Peal are all sitting in the impoverished home of Socrates discussing a serious matter. Howard's daughter, Winnie, saw Petis stab and rob LeRoy. Howard is seeking advice about how to handle the situation. Socrates questions Howard further. He wants to be certain Winnie really saw what Howard is claiming she saw. The men conclude that if Petis is responsible, he is also probably responsible for other murders and will not stop on his own. Three of the men have different opinions on how the situation should be handled. Right thinks they should kill Petis. Markham thinks they should go to the police. Stony feels they should tell everyone in the neighborhood about Petis and let the situation take care of itself. We get another glimpse into Socrates' past. The discussion sparks a memory from when Socrates was in an Indiana State prison.... "The Thief" Summary
Socrates pays a visit to Iula's diner. He visits the diner at least once a month, on Tuesdays. Iula serves meatloaf on Tuesdays and that is one thing he is not able to make on his hotplate in his small home. Socrates has been out picking up bottles and cans. He does not like the way the men treat him at Crenshaw's. They make him wait, while they stand around telling jokes, and then they check every can and bottle before accepting them. After getting his money for the bottles and cans today, three men jump him. Socrates receives a cut on his wrist from a broken bottle, but otherwise he walks away the winner. Iula shows concern over his wrist. Socrates has already taken the time to stitch his slashed sleeve. Iula tells Socrates he has no business out there collecting bottles and cans and offers him a job...
"Double Standard" Summary
Socrates is waiting for a bus. It is pouring rain, and the streets are mostly deserted. Across the street from the bus stop he sees two lovers standing under the ledge of an abandoned shop. Socrates imagines that the shop was once a bakery because of the blue and white checks on the window. He pictures the bakery full of hard working black people working long hours and earning good pay. Socrates tries to give the couple as much privacy as possible under the circumstances. Ralphie, according to the woman's passionate cries, is on the heavy side. The girl is small and much...
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