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A Piece of Steak

AP Photo/Larry Crowe

Can a piece of steak be the difference between winning and losing?

Jack London’s short story, “A Piece of Steak” begins with Tom King literally eating the crumbs off of his plate. He finishes the food and is still hungry, but he is better off than his wife and kids. His children were not given dinner; instead, they were sent to bed. His wife was not given dinner, but unlike her children, she was forced to watch longingly as he ate what little food the family had.

The first paragraph of the story might lead some to believe that the man is a mean man, but it is soon revealed that the Tom King ate the food because he was trying to help his family. Tom King is a prizefighter and he has a fight coming up soon. A victory will mean his entire family gets to eat. A failure will mean they all continue to go hungry.

Tom wishes he had a steak to eat but that is not a possibility. In the morning, he wakes, still wishing he had a piece of steak. He knows he hasn’t trained enough and he knows that he is aging. Will his age or hunger betray him during the fight, or will he emerge victorious?

Read “A Piece of Steak” and see how Tom’s story ends.