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Transformation on 'F' Street

Transformation on 'F' Street

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Published by neptuneauteur
Edward P. Jones’s story, A Butterfly on ‘F’ Street is about transformation—a change that occurs between two women that love the same man, now deceased. Jones uses metaphor and setting to emphasize the change. The story opens with Mildred Harper crossing ‘F’ street on her way from Morton’s to Woolworth’s. On reaching the island or median in the center of the street her eyes fix upon a golden-yellow butterfly.
Edward P. Jones’s story, A Butterfly on ‘F’ Street is about transformation—a change that occurs between two women that love the same man, now deceased. Jones uses metaphor and setting to emphasize the change. The story opens with Mildred Harper crossing ‘F’ street on her way from Morton’s to Woolworth’s. On reaching the island or median in the center of the street her eyes fix upon a golden-yellow butterfly.

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Published by: neptuneauteur on Feb 15, 2008
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10/31/2012

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Transformation on ‘F’ Street 
Anjuelle D. Floyd
Edward P. Jones’s story,
 A Butterfly on ‘F’ Street 
is about
transformation
 —a change thatoccurs between two women that love the same man, now deceased. Jones uses metaphor and setting to emphasize the change. The story opens with Mildred Harper crossing
‘F’  street 
on her 
way from Morton’s to Woolworth’s
. On reaching the
island 
or median in thecenter of the street her 
eyes fix upon a
 
 golden-yellow butterfly
.As a
butterfly
results from the metamorphosis of a caterpillar, so the
butterfly
 
 fluttering about the median
alerts us a change is about to occur with
Mildred 
now following thedeath of her husband,
Mansfield Harper 
 —whose passing has been yet another transformation. (p. 177)On spotting the butterfly,
Mildred is astonished to see such a thing, wild, utterly fragile,in the midst of buildings, noise, cars, and buses.
(p. 177) Mildred is in a vulnerable statetoo. She concludes that the
butterfly must have lost its way.
(p. 177) Yet again, like the butterfly, Mildred is also traveling without a compass.After spotting the
butterfly
Mildred turns back and comes,
 face to face with the womanher husband had left her for 
. (p. 177)Mildred has
 seen the woman four or five times from the back seat of her son’s car. Seeing her now
and
 so close, is like a recurring dream
wherein she
 finds a being 
that has never  before occupied that
dream.
(p. 177-178) The phrase,
recurring dream
alludes to the possibility that while this situation is clearly awkward for Mildred, she has on some level
10/14/2007 
(all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’,
 Lost in the City
 
of 4
ISBN -00679258-X)
1
 
Transformation on ‘F’ Street 
Anjuelle D. Floyd
wished for it to occur.The change which the butterfly’s presence foreshadows is rooted in the instance whenMildred,
 from the back seat of her son’s car 
, saw Mansfield and
the woman he had left her for come up the street, his strong arm around hers, as if lovers, whispering into thewoman’s ear every sweet word that had ever been invented 
.Jones tells us that Mildred,
had expected 
to see them this way, perhaps like encounteringthe woman while crossing ‘
 F’ Street 
. (p. 180) These experiences are like that of a
recurring dream,
each embedded and reiterating the other. (p. 177)But what Mildred has witnessed
 from the back of her son’s car 
is not reality, rather amemory, or wish of what had, or might have taken place, between Mildred andMansfield.In actuality
the woman was holding Mansfield’s elbow.
When they reached the house
 , she opened the gate and led him up the stairs to the porch.
As
Mansfield waited patientlywhile she unlocked the front door, moths circled the overhead bulb—a bulb that offered no light. The woman then guided him inside, and to a dark room
. Mansfield Harper had been dying of cancer when Mildred saw him and woman.And while moths resemble butterflies they are not butterflies. What Mildred witnessed
10/14/2007 
(all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’,
 Lost in the City
 
of 4
ISBN -00679258-X)
2
 
Transformation on ‘F’ Street 
Anjuelle D. Floyd
was not reality. Rather it held a
moth-like
resemblance of her hopes, and dreams, or  possibly regrets concerning her life with Mansfield.During the encounter on
‘F’ Street 
the woman, for whom Mansfield
had left Mildred 
,introduces herself as
Elizabeth Ann Coleman.
She
explains that her friends call her Lady,
an ironic name for a woman who has occupied the role of the
other woman
.Yet a twist of fate has rendered
 Lady
vulnerable, same as, if not more than, Mildred whenMansfield abandoned her for Lady. Both women have lost the man they loved.Mildred says to
 Lady
,
God is with you
. That she does not use the word ‘
be
’ as in
God bewith you
speaks volumes to what Mildred has seen,
and 
now recognizes inLady/Elizabeth. (p. 180)Mildred has witnessed aspects of herself in Lady/Elizabeth, fragments reflective of, andthat resonate with, Mildred’s love for Mansfield—two qualities that ultimately
dropped Mildred at the doorstep of insanity
when Mansfield left her for 
 Elizabeth/Lady
. (p. 178)Mansfield is now dead from
cancer 
, and as Lady/Elizabeth, states she did not attendMansfield’s
 funeral 
 because she
was not well 
, Jones reveals that Mansfield never divorced Mildred.
10/14/2007 
(all excerpts taken from Edward P. Jones’,
 Lost in the City
 
of 4
ISBN -00679258-X)
3

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