“The Treasure of Lemon Brown” – Theme Essay
Imagine giving up your chance to go to college in order to provide for your family. You take a job that pays minimum wage because no notable employer will hire you, on account of your lack of education. You are only doing this for your family. Or imagine being a world-renowned musician who rarely gets to see his family because you are always stuck in a tour bus, and you let your family stay at home to lead as normal a life as possible. These are the real situations and sacrifices of Mr. Ridley—Greg’s father—and Lemon Brown, respectively, in the short story, “The Treasure of Lemon Brown.” Both men gave up their joys in life to help their sons follow through with their own lives, showing that sacrifice is inherent in love.
In the face of peril, both Lemon Brown and Greg risk their lives to protect each other. In one instance, Lemon Brown prioritizes Greg’s safety over his own, “hurling his body down the stairs at the men who had come to take his treasure” to keep the thugs from discovering Greg’s whereabouts (Myers 176). At his age, Lemon is frail and this act of bravery could potentially end his life, but that does not stop him from protecting Greg. The reason for Lemon’s impulsive actions was his fatherly role towards Greg. Lemon tries to protect him because he never had the chance to do the same for his biological son, Jesse. At the same time, Greg was similarly protective of Lemon Brown. In one instance, “Greg howled as evenly as he could” (Myers 176). Although Greg feared for his own safety, he endangered himself by distracting the attackers while Lemon Brown hid. The fact that Greg is the child in this makeshift “family scenario” indicates that he is the one who should be saved; yet, he still tries to protect Lemon. Indeed, just as Lemon views Greg as a son, Greg treats Lemon like a father. Both are motivated by mutual respect to act altruistically, with the other’s best interest in mind. Conclusively, when trapped in a dangerous situation, both Lemon Brown and Greg go out of their way to protect the other.
Besides these sacrifices, Greg’s father and Lemon Brown also gave up a great deal for their sons. For example, Greg’s father told his son, “I had to leave school when I was 13…that’s a year younger than you are now” (Myers 170). Mr. Ridley chose a job over his education to ensure that Greg can have a better life than he had. It is his paternal love for his son that leads him to act so selflessly. In Lemon Brown’s case, he “used to travel around and make money for to feed his wife and Jesse” (Myers 177). Lemon spared his son, Jesse, from a life in the spotlight by letting him stay at home and continue his studies. Lemon knew that moving Jesse around the country would put his education on hold. Hence, he gave up the opportunity to watch his son grow up, for the sake of Jesse’s well-being. Overall, Greg’s father and Lemon Brown each sacrificed their own wishes for the sake of their sons.
Picture this: you relinquished your college education to get a job to support your family, but the only job you qualify for is a minimum-wage, manual labor assignment. Or, you live in luxury as a famous musician, but you are always on the move for your next concert, and you rarely get to see your family. The first case is Mr. Ridley’s, who puts his son before himself. The second case is Lemon Brown’s, who did the same before he lost his career and his home. These men sacrificed their hopes to allow their families to have better lives than they had, proving that love requires sacrifice.