The Treasure of Lemon Brown: Summary & Theme

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  • 0:00 Myers' the Treasure of…
  • 0:57 A Boy, an Old Man, & a…
  • 3:02 Theme: What's Your Treasure?
  • 3:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Catherine Rose

Catherine taught middle and high school English and has a master's degree in Education.

In this lesson, we will explore the summary and theme of Walter Dean Myers' short story, 'The Treasure of Lemon Brown.' In this story, a young boy learns about life, family, and how treasures - whether expensive or not - define who we are.

Myers' the Treasure of Lemon Brown

Imagine this scene: You just saw a film that you are quite sure you will never forget. As you sit with your friends discussing the film over ice cream sundaes, you begin to talk about what happened in the film and what impact those events might have on your life. What is happening in this moment is a discussion of both summary and theme. In Walter Dean Myers' short story, 'The Treasure of Lemon Brown,' these two literary elements come together as a young boy learns about what is really important in life. Let's explore the summary and theme of 'The Treasure of Lemon Brown.'

'The Treasure of Lemon Brown' is a novel written by Walter Dean Myers. He was an African-American author who was born in 1937. In this story, a boy named Greg Ridley meets the former blues singer, Lemon Brown, in an old, abandoned house and learns a valuable lesson about life and its treasures.

A Boy, an Old Man, & a Treasure

Greg Ridley is upset because he is doing poorly in school, and he is afraid his dad will not let him play basketball as a result. He goes to an abandoned tenement house to avoid the lecture he knew his father would give him and to get out of the rain. He meets Lemon Brown, who thinks he has come to rob him.

Lemon Brown begins to talk about his treasure, and Greg questions whether someone like him would even have a treasure. Lemon Brown recounts the high points of his life as a blues singer and how he came on hard times.

Some neighborhood thugs show up because they have heard Lemon Brown talking that he has a treasure and they want it. Greg and Brown try to remain quiet so the men will not find them in the dark. While Greg tries to escape up a second flight of stairs, he sees Brown standing at the top of the main ones. He watches as the men demand that he throw down his money. What he does instead is throw himself down the stairs crashing into them. The three men then run away.

Brown agrees to show Greg his treasure, but first they look outside to make sure the men are gone. They see them sitting on a curb looking at their wounds from where he had crashed into them.

Lemon Brown retrieves the old newspaper clippings and an old harmonica to show to Greg. He explains how he sent these things to his son, Jesse, when Jesse went to war. He tells Greg how he traveled a lot when his boy was growing up. When his wife died, the boy went to live with his mom's sister. He sent those things because he wanted his son to know his father had done great things.

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