Study Guide

Leo in Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories

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The narrator wastes no time in calling this all-night café proprietor "bitter and stingy" (Tree.1). But as we watch him listen to the old man tell his tales, he begins to seem weary, teasing the old drunk that he better get his nose out of his beer. "Prominent transient drowns in beer," he jokes. "That would be a cute death."

Repeatedly, the boy looks to Leo, wanting an explanation for the old man's ramblings. But Leo doesn't answer him, and in this refusal, we see a glimmer of a man who accepts that though he's seen a lot, he doesn't know it all.

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