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Word Count: 301
Mr Sweet is a neighbor of the narrator who is initially a little girl summoned with the rest of her siblings whenever Mr Sweet is threatening to die The narrator describes how she and her brothers loved Mr Sweet despite the fact that he was an indifferent cotton farmer a frequent drunk and an inveterate smoker Somehow the faults of the old man including his falling-down bouts of drunkenness and his slovenly personal appearance are not impediments to the devotion he inspires or the affection for him on the part of the narrator and her brothers Each time the children are summoned Mr Sweet is reputed to be at deaths door To hell with dying the narrators father would say These children want Mr Sweet Then the youngsters would leap on the man in bed and begin their miraculous revival By turns tickling and kissing Mr Sweet the neighbor kids manage to revive him time after time The narrator comes to have faith in her unfailing ability to bring him back to life and several times the children succeed when the local doctor had given up hope Nearly two decades pass and the narrator is in graduate school when another summons comes She flies back to the rural South and hastens to the bedside of the old man now over ninety But this time after a brief return to consciousness Mr Sweet dies Commentary Although catalogued as a childrens book this story is moving and thought-provoking for both children and adults The tolerance of the children for the old man seals the bond of affection that in turn allows their healing to work The power of relationships in promoting long life has been documented in the scientific literature but not so poignantly as in Alice Walkers story
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