What Is the Theme of the Short Story “Before the End of Summer” by Grant Moss, Jr.?

The overall theme of the short story “Before the End of Summer” by Grant Moss, Jr., is the acceptance of the inevitability of death. The story is told from the point of view of Bennie, a 10-year-old African American boy.

Bennie lives with his grandmother on a farm. The theme is developed throughout the story; in the opening scene Bennie overhears the doctor telling his grandmother that she will die towards the end of the summer. Bennie is at first afraid of the very notion of death, but through a series of events, including the death of a friend of his grandmother’s and overheard conversations, he comes to the gradual realization that death is as natural as birth.

As his attitude changes and matures, he begins to help more on the farm and do what he can to make his grandmother’s last days easier. When the time finally comes for her to die, Bennie has matured to accept both her death and his own mortality, and is ready to help her take the pills that will end her life.

The short story “Before the End of Summer first appeared in The New Yorker Magazine in the October 15, 1960 issue.