What Is the Short Story “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” About?

The short story “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” is about a boy named Greg who storms out of his house to avoid his dad and meets a homeless man named Lemon Brown, who shows him his “treasures” of an old harmonica and newspaper clippings. Greg learns not to judge people so quickly through his encounter with Brown, and decides to go home and resolve his conflict with his father. The story was written by Walter Dean Myers, a renowned author of children’s books and young adult literature.

The story opens with a boy named Greg who gets in trouble with his father over a poor math grade he received in school. Angry at his father, Greg leaves his house and walks out through the city, eventually meeting an old, homeless man named Lemon Brown. Some thugs attempt to rob Brown of his “treasures” and Greg helps Brown scare them away. Due to his encounters with the thugs, Brown has his own prejudices against young people, but his positive meeting with Greg helps him dispel these feelings somewhat.

After learning about Brown’s past as a struggling musician and a devoted father, Greg comes to appreciate his own father. After parting ways with Brown, Greg returns home, accepting his father’s likely lecture about the importance of his school grades.

The story has various themes, particularly the idea that people judge each other falsely based upon their own experiences and not on any discernible truths. The story also makes reference to the older generation of World War II, blues musicians and the trials of the homeless trying to survive in the city.