Lit. NotesShort Story

Strong Horse Tea Summary

“Strong horse Tea “revolves around the life of a black woman Rannie Toomer and her ill son. When the story opens Rannie Toomer is in a helpless situation because her only son Snooks is deathly sick with pneumonia and whooping cough. Rannie is in great difficulty. She tries her best to save her son, she wants to call a real Doctor for his son’s treatment but the Doctor does not come to treat a Black lady’s son. She is shown as a loving mother who is very much attached to her son.

Rannie’s neighbor, Sarah, tries to persuade her to use some home remedies to try to get Snooks better without a doctor.  Rannie scornfully rejects Sara’s home remedies because she does not believe in that swap magic that Sara practices. She is waiting for white medicine; she believes that a white doctor will come through the storm that is brewing outside her shaft. The morning that Snooks was very ill, she met this mail carrier who she wanted him to bring a doctor but he sent Sarah, Rannie’s neighbor back over.

Finally, Rannie listened to Sarah and went out through the lightning and thunder to collect this strong horse remedy. She is determined to save Snooks, even as Rannie slips and slides through the mud to return with the “tea” that Sarah needs, the reader is told that Snooks’s frail breathing has already stopped with the thunder.

The final paradox is Rannie’s use of her leaky plastic shoe to catch the “tea” and her sealing the crack by holding her mouth to the toe. All at once, ignorance is triumphant, and Snooks is dead, even the mail carrier is perceived to be “ignorant” because he doesn’t understand that Rannie wanted a white doctor to be sent to her house. He instead delivers Sarah again to her shaft for her home remedies, the mail carrier does not know that Rannie denied Sarah once before. Ignorance is a big theme in this story.

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