The narrative revolves around James, residing above the Silver Dollar Check Cashing Service, who observes people treated like criminals when cashing checks, subjected to a minimum fee of 50¢. The story highlights the struggles of those unable to read, write, or handle finances, emphasizing the challenges faced by hundreds in the city who lack literacy.
The Plight and Wisdom of the Older Generation
The mother, wise and perceptive, explains the educational disadvantages faced by many older individuals in the city who had to quit school early for work. She draws a parallel to ancient times, referencing a special class known as scribes who could read and write. The narrative touches on Jesus' criticism of these scribes for their pride and the necessity to document his teachings.
Sonny's Venture as the "PUBLIC SCRIBE"
Sonny establishes "PUBLIC SCRIBE—ALL SERVICES FREE" to aid people with writing letters, addressing envelopes, and handling intimidating official documents. The story unfolds with a confrontation with a cop, warning Sonny about conducting a business without a license, leaving him feeling uncertain and angry.
The Fear of Banks and a Lesson Learned
Sonny's parents avoid cashing checks at Silver Dollar, opting for a bank where they maintain an account for free check cashing. The narrative delves into the fear of banks rooted in historical events, such as the Depression, and racial prejudice. Eventually, the characters learn to overcome their fears, realizing the true nature of banks and swans in the lake.
James's Journey to Encourage Banking
James attempts to help his community by charging for unnecessary services, attracting the attention of a cop who warns him about operating without a license. James decides to change his approach and encourages people to cash checks for free at a local bank, challenging their perceptions and overcoming their fears.
Encouragement from an Old Lady's Wisdom
An old lady, who arrived from Alabama 44 years ago, serves as a source of encouragement for James. She motivates him to embrace new opportunities, apply for a license at City Hall, and overcome his fear of trying something new, emphasizing the importance of exploration and personal growth.