The Sunday Following Mother’s Day

Anjuelle D. Floyd

Edward P. Jones’, The Sunday Following Mother’s Day, chronicles Madeleine William’s search for the reason, or rather the man who killed her mother.

The story opens with a description of the silence in which the murder occurred—a night in early April when Madeleine was four-years-old, and her brother, ten. The two not learn of what had taken place until late next morning when their father’s sister, Maddie, came and took them to her house.

Madeleine’s father, Samuel Williams, gave no defense of killing Madeleine’s mother, only said, “I stabbed her a lot.” Samuel Williams Sr. was convicted and sentenced to twenty-five years in Lorton Prison for killing his wife, the mother of his children. Maddie Williams, Samuel’s sister, became guardian of Madeleine and her brother, Sam Jr., when members of their mother’s family refused to care for them. Thus began Madeleine’s journey through a world from which her mother had been so brutally taken by her father.

During the ensuing years Aunt Maddie took Madeleine and her brother to visit their Samuel Sr. in prison. Three years after their mother’s killing, Madeleine’s brother, Sam Jr., then thirteen, stopped accompanying Madeleine on visits to see their father. Two years later and having begun to steal and stay out all night, Samuel Williams Jr., then age fifteen, left home. He did not return for a decade and a half. Nine-year old Madeleine, continued living with their, Aunt Maddie. Madeleine never caused Maddie problems.
11/03/2007 (all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’, Lost in the City ISBN -00679258-X)

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The Sunday Following Mother’s Day
Anjuelle D. Floyd

When Madeleine reached age fifteen she stopped writing letters to Samuel Jr., who was then enlisted in the military. Entering Columbia University she communicated with her Aunt Maddie through letters. Madeleine also wrote to her father, Sam Sr., still in prison, and whom Madeleine had long since stopped visiting.

Distorted memories of her father formed, and replaced Madeleine’s initial recollections of her father, with those emerging from her depression and sense of loss, and her desire to understand the man—her father—who had killed Madeleine’s mother—a woman Madeleine had barely known and could now faintly recalled. For all intents and purposes Madeleine was an orphan.

During her junior year at Columbia, Madeleine re-experienced the death of her mother when the father of a three- years-old girl shot the child’s mother. The little girl attended the pre-school where Madeleine volunteered. The similarities of Madeleine and the little girl’s loss were uncanny. The little girl was three when her mother was killed. Madeleine was four when her mother was murdered. The little girl’s father shot the mother four times. Samuel Williams Sr. repeated stabbed Madeleine’s mother. Both had lost their mothers at the hands of their fathers.

All this lay underneath Madeleine’s skin of memories when, with following her graduation from Columbia, she gave birth to a son, later understood to be mentally
11/03/2007 (all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’, Lost in the City ISBN -00679258-X)

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The Sunday Following Mother’s Day
Anjuelle D. Floyd

retarded. Madeleine had named her son after her brother, Sam. Jr. Against the wishes of all involved, Madeleine committed her son to a government facility. Madeleine had refused to marry with or live the child’s father. Madeleine viewed her son’s condition as punishment for her having named him Sam, which is also the name of her father.

Years later and unable to be visit her son at the Children’s Center on Mother’s Day as planned she postpones the trip for a week later. On The Sunday Following Mother’s Day Madeleine opens the door to her apartment and finds Samuel Williams Sr.—the man who killed her and Sam Jr.’s mother, and who newly released from prison, also holds the same name as Madeleine’s son—standing on the other side.

Much to her dismay Madeleine agrees to allow her father to drive her to see her son—his grandson, Sam—at the Children’s Center. While there Madeleine recoils from her son, Sam III, as he lay drooling upon a blanket spread over the ground, and next to Madeleine.

Hours later Madeleine is struck by her father, the elder Sam, whom she notices is haphazardly dressed. Sam, the grandfather is pushing Sam, the grandchild, now in the wheelchair, back toward the facility. Grandfather Sam has just returned from having gone to get his grandson some ice cream, a trip during which the elder Sam’s car broke down.

Madeleine is finally in touch with the anger underneath which sits her hurt looming
11/03/2007 (all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’, Lost in the City ISBN -00679258-X)

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The Sunday Following Mother’s Day
Anjuelle D. Floyd

furious.

The drive home is silent. Arriving at her apartment Madeleine leaves her father’s car and heads upstairs. She does not hear him say, “I’m sorry.” Inside her apartment she locks the door and takes a seat, her back toward the window as her father, Samuel Williams Sr., the grandfather of her retarded son, Sam, works to repair his car.

The Sunday Following Mother’s Day is as much about names and what they mean, and symbolize, as it is a daughter’s loss of family with the death of her mother killed by the daughter’s father. The name Sam means loss for Madeleine Williams. And yet she gives this name to her son whom she later learns lacks the ability to comprehend and function in the world as Madeleine, and we, know it.

Jones posits Madeleine’s son, Sam III, as a physical manifestation of what Madeleine, and often, we as humans cannot understand and struggle to accept in our lives— complexes and situations inherited from others that lay beyond our ability to alter or improve—the uncertainties of life at the center of which sits an uneasiness concerning ourselves.

11/03/2007 (all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’, Lost in the City ISBN -00679258-X)

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