A Little Local Colour (Henry)

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A Little Local Colour
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man seeking authentic New York City experiences was guided by a friend to meet various locals, only to find that their speech and behavior did not match the stereotypes he expected.

A man was in search of characteristic New York scenes and incidents for his writing business. His friend Rivington, a young man-about-town and a New Yorker, offered to help him find some local color.

The Narrator — narrator; curious about New York City's local color and slang.
Rivington — narrator's friend; a young man-about-town, knowledgeable about New York City.

They began their search one evening, starting with dinner at Rivington's club. As they left the club, they overheard a conversation between two men speaking in slang. The man was intrigued by the slang and wanted to hear more, but Rivington informed him that the speakers were actually a college professor and a social economist, not the typical New Yorkers he was looking for.

I mentioned to Rivington that I was in search of characteristic New York scenes and incidents—something typical, I told him, without necessarily having to spell the first syllable with an “i.”

Rivington then suggested they go to the Bowery, a street in Manhattan known for its rough characters and unique slang. They took a streetcar to the Bowery and began walking along the street, passing various shops and people. Rivington assured the man that they would find the authentic Bowery slang he was looking for.

They encountered a policeman named Donahue, who introduced them to a young man named Kerry, claiming he was a true Bowery native. Rivington attempted to engage Kerry in conversation using the slang he expected to hear, but Kerry responded in a polite and educated manner. He explained that the slang associated with the Bowery was actually a literary invention, and that the people of the Bowery had only adopted some of the phrases to cater to tourists' expectations.

The Bowery Boy — a well-spoken young man who grew up on the Bowery; writer and student of the area.

I love my Bowery. It was my cradle and is my inspiration. I have published one book. The critics have been kind. I put my heart in it.

Kerry offered to show them around the Bowery and introduce them to some of the young men at the East Side Kappa Delta Phi Society, but Rivington declined, saying they were short on time. They parted ways with Kerry and returned to upper Broadway, where they had a meal before parting ways themselves. Rivington remarked that their experience could only have happened in New York.