Jeremiah's Song by Walter Dean Meyers

Summary: Jeremiah's Song by Walter Dean Meyers is a short story about memories of a narrator when he was nine years old and his time listening to the "songs" of his grandfather, Jeremiah


Narrator - was telling a story that was based around Jeremiah about when he was nine

Ellie - The narrator's cousin

Grandpa Jeremiah - Narrator's grandfather

Macon Smith - An older kid the narrator grew up around

Doctor Crawford - The doctor who was looking after Jeremiah

Sister Jenkins - A sister from the church that they went

Sister Todd - Another sister from the church that they went who stayed with Jeremiah to take care of him

Deacon Turner - The deacon from the church that they went who had a "little skinny yellow wife"

Section 1:

  • The narrator feels that Ellie was not going to like Macon Smith around the house especially when Grandpa Jeremiah was preparing to die
  • Jeremiah was close to Ellie at one time and raised her when her parents died
  • When Ellie came back from her first year in college in Greensboro, she found out that Jeremiah's stories were not true and didn't want to hear them anymore because of this
  • It didn't matter if the stories were true to Jeremiah, he liked hearing them
  • Jeremiah said that the stories were actually songs; Jeremiah: "songs of my people"
  • The narrator didn't see how the stories Jeremiah told could be "regular" songs
  • When Ellie came home to Curry, she was critical of all the things that they did and did not participate in church much and did not participate in gospel choir
  • Jeremiah agreed with Sister Todd that he had never had formal schooling and that he had nothing to teach the "young folks"
  • Jeremiah sat on the porch by himself instead of telling stories because Ellie stayed inside the house reading or watching tv
  • The narrator wanted to hear a story but the stories he told scared him and he would have to ask someone to sleep with him which Ellie wouldn't do anymore because he was "old enough to sleep alone"
  • Jeremiah had a stroke when Ellie went back to school and an older kid, Macon, came by to hang around, grew really fast, and helped with the chores of the narrator
  • When Macon was around, the narrator didn't mind listening to Jeremiah's stores because it was in the afternoon and he forgot about it by bedtime
  • Jeremiah was "real sick" when Ellie came back from school the next summer and Jeremiah stayed in bed a lot
  • Doctor Crawford said that Jeremiah didn't have much longer to live to Ellie and Sister Todd, Deacon Turner and his wife who started to cry although the narrator knew that he was the one who loved Grandpa Jeremiah the most
  • Everyone made sure they were quiet for Jeremiah and made sure he was comfortable
  • Sister Todd stayed with them and took care of Jeremiah by cooking and praying for him which the narrator hoped would convince God to make Jeremiah well
  • Ellie followed up on Jeremiah's medical tests and went into town to ask "everybody" about Dr. Crawford; Sister Jenkins asked Ellie if she knew more than Dr. Crawford
  • Macon came over and Ellie told him what was going on with Jeremiah and then Macon started crying
  • Macon stayed where Grandpa Jeremiah was for "a long time" and Ellie came in accusing him of getting Jeremiah to tell stories when he needed his rest
  • Macon left but in the morning came back with a guitar and the narrator came too
  • Macon and the narrator went into Grandpa Jeremiah's room and found Jeremiah in a bad physical condition
  • Macon was "just going over the strings" and the narrator sat and listened while Jeremiah told a story about "Old Carrie" which was a story about how a woman "out-tricked the Devil and got her son back"
  • The narrator was scared of the story and didn't like the old woman wrestling the Devil in Jeremiah's Song
  • After eating, Macon and the narrator listened to Jeremiah's stories until Macon went home because the narrator was too scared to listen to Jeremiah's stories at night
  • Dr. Crawford said that Jeremiah was "doing a little better" and the narrator said that Macon had been listening to Jeremiah's stories
  • Ellie said it might be a setback for Jeremiah to tell stories but Dr. Crawford said that Jeremiah's telling of stories would be just as good as any of the medicine he could prescribe
  • The narrator saw that what the doctor said about Jeremiah telling stories bothered her and the narrator found out that it would keep them in the "past"
  • Macon told the narrator that he was growing up and that's why he wasn't as scared of Jeremiah's stories as he once was
  • Macon, Ellie and the narrator became good friend and it seemed that Macon was meant to be more than a visitor
  • Grandpa Jeremiah's health was stable
  • Ellie said that Macon and Jeremiah were using Jeremiah's stories as "a secret language"
  • The narrator tells Jeremiah about what Ellie said about Jeremiah and Macon
  • The narrator tells Jeremiah that his stories were about people from long ago and Jeremiah tells the narrator to use that as "bridge" so he could go back there and see how people didn't "break"
  • The narrator asked if he was going to break and Jeremiah told him that he wouldn't break and that he would "be strong as they come"
  • Jeremiah told the narrator that he would tell the stories that Jeremiah told him to his "young'uns" and they'll be just as strong as the narrator
  • Jeremiah told the narrator that he could tell the stories anyway he wanted and that as a man Macon could do with the stories "what he see fit", even with Macon's guitar
  • It rained and when it stopped raining the narrator was glad
  • Macon and Sister Todd came over to give Grandpa Jeremiah company
  • Sister Todd asked how Jeremiah was and Ellie said he was "all right", Macon said that he was "quiet"
  • Sister Todd said that he must have run out of stories to tell and that old people repeated themselves
  • Jeremiah told Sister Todd to tell people he was okay and to pray for him
  • After bringing pie the next afternoon, she took a piece of rhubarb pie into Jeremiah's room and told Ellie to get the Bible
  • Jeremiah had died and on the hot day of his funeral they sang "Soon-a Will Be Done."
  • Macon played "Precious Lord" at the graveyard and Ellie, Sister Todd and the narrator cried (although he said he would not)
  • Macon directed the procedures of the funeral and when they got home he played the guitar
  • Ellie cried a "soft" crying that the narrator says would last a long time "inside of you"
  • The narrator watched Macon play a song which to the narrator was something the same and something different at the same time and he thought he might learn it one day if he wanted

Other Notes:

  • The story takes place in first person which makes it seem like we're looking through the narrator's eyes and feeling his feelings
  • One can convey memories of generations through songs and stories which makes it more exciting to listen to; Jeremiah says for the narrator to say the stories or sing the stories in his own way

© 2009 copyright Jeremiah's Song | Walter Dean Meyers