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A Respectable Woman by Kate Chopin

Mrs. Baroda was a little provoked to learn that her husband expected his friend,
Gouvernail, up to spend a week or two on the plantation.
They had entertained a good deal during the winter; much of the time had also been
passed in New Orleans in various forms of mild dissipation. She was looking forward to a period
of unbroken rest, now, and undisturbed tete-a-tete with her husband, when he informed her that
Gouvernail was coming up to stay a week or two.
This was a man she had heard much of but never seen. He had been her husband's college
friend; was now a journalist, and in no sense a society man or "a man about town," which were,
perhaps, some of the reasons she had never met him. But she had unconsciously formed an
image of him in her mind. She pictured him tall, slim, cynical; with eye-glasses, and his hands in
his pockets; and she did not like him. Gouvernail was slim enough, but he wasn't very tall nor
very cynical; neither did he wear eyeglasses nor carry his hands in his pockets. And she rather
liked him when he first presented himself.
But why she liked him she could not explain satisfactorily to herself when she partly
attempted to do so. She could discover in him none of those brilliant and promising traits which
Gaston, her husband, had often assured her that he possessed. On the contrary, he sat rather mute
and receptive before her chatty eagerness to make him feel at home and in face of Gaston's frank
and wordy hospitality. His manner was as courteous toward her as the most exacting woman
could require; but he made no direct appeal to her approval or even esteem.
Once settled at the plantation he seemed to like to sit upon the wide portico in the shade of
one of the big Corinthian pillars, smoking his cigar lazily and listening attentively to Gaston's
experience as a sugar planter.
"This is what I call living," he would utter with deep satisfaction, as the air that swept
across the sugar field caressed him with its warm and scented velvety touch. It pleased him also
to get on familiar terms with the big dogs that came about him, rubbing themselves sociably

against his legs. He did not care to fish, and displayed no eagerness to go out and kill grosbecs
when Gaston proposed doing so.
Gouvernail's personality puzzled Mrs. Baroda, but she liked him. Indeed, he was a
lovable, inoffensive fellow. After a few days, when she could understand him no better than at
first, she gave over being puzzled and remained piqued. In this mood she left her husband and
her guest, for the most part, alone together. Then finding that Gouvernail took no manner of
exception to her action, she imposed her society upon him, accompanying him in his idle strolls
to the mill and walks along the batture. She persistently sought to penetrate the reserve in which
he had unconsciously enveloped himself.
"When is he goingyour friend?" she one day asked her husband. "For my part, he tires
me frightfully."
"Not for a week yet, dear. I can't understand; he gives you no trouble."
"No. I should like him better if he did; if he were more like others, and I had to plan
somewhat for his comfort and enjoyment."
Gaston took his wife's pretty face between his hands and looked tenderly and laughingly
into her troubled eyes.
They were making a bit of toilet sociably together in Mrs. Baroda's dressing-room.
"You are full of surprises, ma belle," he said to her. "Even I can never count upon how
you are going to act under given conditions." He kissed her and turned to fasten his cravat before
the mirror.
"Here you are," he went on, "taking poor Gouvernail seriously and making a commotion
over him, the last thing he would desire or expect."
"Commotion!" she hotly resented. "Nonsense! How can you say such a thing?
Commotion, indeed! But, you know, you said he was clever."

"So he is. But the poor fellow is run down by overwork now. That's why I asked him here
to take a rest."
"You used to say he was a man of ideas," she retorted, unconciliated. "I expected him to
be interesting, at least. I'm going to the city in the morning to have my spring gowns fitted. Let
me know when Mr. Gouvernail is gone; I shall be at my Aunt Octavie's."
That night she went and sat alone upon a bench that stood beneath a live oak tree at the
edge of the gravel walk.
She had never known her thoughts or her intentions to be so confused. She could gather
nothing from them but the feeling of a distinct necessity to quit her home in the morning.
Mrs. Baroda heard footsteps crunching the gravel; but could discern in the darkness only
the approaching red point of a lighted cigar. She knew it was Gouvernail, for her husband did not
smoke. She hoped to remain unnoticed, but her white gown revealed her to him. He threw away
his cigar and seated himself upon the bench beside her; without a suspicion that she might object
to his presence.
"Your husband told me to bring this to you, Mrs. Baroda," he said, handing her a filmy,
white scarf with which she sometimes enveloped her head and shoulders. She accepted the scarf
from him with a murmur of thanks, and let it lie in her lap.
He made some commonplace observation upon the baneful effect of the night air at the
season. Then as his gaze reached out into the darkness, he murmured, half to himself:
"'Night of south windsnight of the large few stars! Still nodding night'"
She made no reply to this apostrophe to the night, which, indeed, was not addressed to
her.
Gouvernail was in no sense a diffident man, for he was not a self-conscious one. His
periods of reserve were not constitutional, but the result of moods. Sitting there beside Mrs.
Baroda, his silence melted for the time.

He talked freely and intimately in a low, hesitating drawl that was not unpleasant to hear.
He talked of the old college days when he and Gaston had been a good deal to each other; of the
days of keen and blind ambitions and large intentions. Now there was left with him, at least, a
philosophic acquiescence to the existing orderonly a desire to be permitted to exist, with now
and then a little whiff of genuine life, such as he was breathing now.
Her mind only vaguely grasped what he was saying. Her physical being was for the
moment predominant. She was not thinking of his words, only drinking in the tones of his voice.
She wanted to reach out her hand in the darkness and touch him with the sensitive tips of her
fingers upon the face or the lips. She wanted to draw close to him and whisper against his cheek
she did not care whatas she might have done if she had not been a respectable woman.
The stronger the impulse grew to bring herself near him, the further, in fact, did she draw
away from him. As soon as she could do so without an appearance of too great rudeness, she rose
and left him there alone.
Before she reached the house, Gouvernail had lighted a fresh cigar and ended his
apostrophe to the night.
Mrs. Baroda was greatly tempted that night to tell her husbandwho was also her friend
of this folly that had seized her. But she did not yield to the temptation. Beside being a
respectable woman she was a very sensible one; and she knew there are some battles in life
which a human being must fight alone.
When Gaston arose in the morning, his wife had already departed. She had taken an early
morning train to the city. She did not return till Gouvernail was gone from under her roof.
There was some talk of having him back during the summer that followed. That is, Gaston
greatly desired it; but this desire yielded to his wife's strenuous opposition.
However, before the year ended, she proposed, wholly from herself, to have Gouvernail
visit them again. Her husband was surprised and delighted with the suggestion coming from her.

"I am glad, chereamie, to know that you have finally overcome your dislike for him; truly
he did not deserve it."
"Oh," she told him, laughingly, after pressing a long, tender kiss upon his lips, "I have
overcome everything! you will see. This time I shall be very nice to him."

TITLE

: A Respectable Woman

AUTHOR

: Kate Chopin

CHARACTERS

Mrs. Baroda
Gouvernail, a journalist, a college friend of Mrs. Barodas husband. His name may be
understood as a tag name; in French it means a rudder, a tiller, with the implication that
he is someone who knows the direction, who understands where things are headed.
Gouvernail is a also major character in Chopins story Athnase, and he appears at
Edna Potelliers party in Chapter XXX of The Awakening, where he once again quotes
lines of poetry

Gaston Baroda, Mrs. Barodas husband

TIME AND PLACE


The story takes place on Gaston Barodas sugar plantation in Louisiana, apparently in the
1880s or early 1890s.

THEMES
Many readers focus on the final sentences of the story, asking themselves what,
exactly, Chopin is saying there that Mrs. Baroda intends to do. As we explain in the
questions and answers below, Kate Chopin often creates brilliant, sometime ambiguous,
closings.

SUMMARY
Mrs.

Baroda is

somewhat

disappointed

to

learn

that

her

husband's

friend Gouvernail is planning to spend a week or two at their plantation, since they had
been busy all winter, and she had planned a period of rest and conversation with her
husband Gaston Baroda. She has never met Gouvernail, although she knows that he and
her husband had been friends in college and that he is now a journalist. She pictures him
as a tall, slim, cynical man and did not like the mental image, but when she meets the
slim but neither tall nor cynical Gouvernail, she finds that she actually likes him.
Mrs. Baroda cannot discern why she likes Gouvernail, since she does not see all
of the positive traits described by Gaston. He does not seem brilliant, but he does seem
quiet and courteous in response to her eagerness to welcome him and her husband's
hospitality. He makes no particular attempt to impress her otherwise, and he enjoys
sitting on the portico and listening to Gaston describe sugar planting, although he does
not like to fish or hunt.
Although Gouvernail puzzles Mrs. Baroda, he is lovable and inoffensive. She
leaves him alone with her husband at first but soon begins to accompany him on walks as
she attempts to overcome his reticence. Her husband tells her that he will stay for another
week and asks why she does not wish him to stay. She responds that she would prefer
him to be more demanding, which amuses Gaston.
Gaston tells Mrs. Baroda that Gouvernail does not expect a commotion over his
presence and that he simply wishes for a break from his busy life, although she declares
that she expected him to be more interesting. Later that night, she sits by herself on a
bench, feeling confused and wanting to leave the plantation for a while, having told her
husband that she might go to the city in the morning and stay with her aunt. While she
sits, Gouvernail sees her and sits next to her, not knowing her displeasure at his presence.
Gouvernail hands her a scarf on Gaston's behalf and murmurs about the night, and
his silence disappears as he becomes talkative for the first time. He speaks to her of the
old days and of his desire for a peaceful existence. She does not listen to his words so
much as his voice, and she thinks of drawing him closer, although she resists because she
is "a respectable woman." Eventually, she leaves, and Gouvernail remains behind,
finishing his address to the night.

Mrs. Baroda wants to tell Gaston of her strange folly, but she realizes sensibly that
she must handle this feeling by herself. The next morning, she leaves for the city and
does not return until Gouvernail departs. Gaston wants Gouvernail to return the next
summer, but she refuses. She later changes her mind, delighting her husband, who tells
her that Gouvernail did not deserve her dislike. She kisses her husband and tells him that
she has "overcome everything" and that she will now treat him more nicely.
ANALYSIS
In "A Respectable Woman," Kate Chopin delves into the psychology of Mrs.
Baroda, a wealthy woman with a loving husband who faces temptation in the person of
Gouvernail, a polite, unassuming visitor to the Baroda plantation. Like the heroine of "A
Pair of Silk Stockings," Mrs. Baroda is enticed early in the story with the prospect of a
change from a quieter, more ordinary life, but whereas Mrs. Sommersgives in to her
desires with relative ease and begins spending her extra money after limited deliberation,
Mrs. Baroda does not instantly recognize what she really wants and eventually struggles
with the self-imposed limitations of her identity as "a respectable woman."
Nevertheless, just as the narrative implies that she has found the strength to
triumph over her emotions, Mrs. Baroda approaches her husband and offers a sweetly
ambiguous statement that reopens the question of her intent to act upon her emotions. She
tells him, "I have overcome everything! You will see. This time I shall be very nice to
him." At first glance, this statement seems to suggest that Mrs. Baroda has regained
control of her emotions. Overcoming "everything" seems to mean that she has overcome
not only her displeasure about Gouvernail, but also her unrespectable romantic feelings.
However, because she modulates her announcement with the insinuation that she will be
very nice to him on his next visit, she may mean that after overcoming her doubts and
her mental restrictions, she has decided to sate her desires in favor of having an affair.
Chopin purposely leaves the meaning of this declaration unclear, but knowing what we
know about her understanding attitude toward female sexual independence in The
Awakening and in her short story "The Kiss," we might infer that Chopin is entertaining
the idea that Mrs. Baroda will resist the ethical standards of her society and discover
more about her needs and available choices as a woman.

Thus, depending on whether we read Mrs. Baroda's final decision as a repression


of her desires or as a plan to pursue fulfillment of her emotions, our interpretation of Mrs.
Baroda's character development can take one of two radically different paths. In the first
case, we can view Mrs. Baroda as a woman who has never before faced any true
emotional tests in her comfortable life as the mistress of her plantation. In this account of
the story, Mrs. Baroda then undergoes a mental conflict within herself, and the climax of
the story occurs at her decision to leave Gouvernail and take the train to the city--while
she reminds herself that she is a respectable woman. She does not choose to see
Gouvernail again until, some months later, she determines that she has defeated her baser
emotions, and her assurance to Gaston Baroda indicates that she will feel free to treat
Gouvernail with more courtesy, since she is no longer attracted to him.
Although this possible interpretation of "A Respectable Woman" would provide
an interesting study of a character who discovers the strength of her will, the second main
interpretation of the story is in many ways more interesting in its implications. In the
alternative analysis, Mrs. Baroda effectively makes the same manner of choice as little
Mrs. Sommers of "A Pair of Silk Stockings" and decides to indulge herself when
Gouvernail visits. She faces a similar conflict within herself, but she comes to realize that
she considers her individual identity as a woman to be more important than her social
identity as a respectable woman. The fact that she initially does not understand her
troubled feelings about Gouvernail suggests that she has never felt the same spark with
her husband, although like the husband in Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," Gaston
appears to be a kindly and worthy man. By choosing to invite Gouvernail for a second
visit, she shows that she has developed a new comprehension and appreciation of herself,
and in possibly having an affair, she hopes to find what has previously been missing in
her life.
A related issue besides that of female sexuality in "A Respectable Woman" is that
of female independence. Mrs. Baroda is like Louise Mallard of "The Story of an Hour" in
that her marriage, while pleasant, has limited her experiences in a way that Chopin deems
unacceptable. Indeed, traditional, respectable marriage in Mrs. Barodas milieu does not
permit affairs. Just as Louise Mallard realizes upon the news of her husband's death that
life as a widow is the same as a life of freedom, Mrs. Baroda makes a smaller but equally

significant decision in choosing to ignore the sexual and emotional bonds of marriage in
order to expand her horizons. As in the case of La Folle, the protagonist in "Beyond the
Bayou," many of Chopin's female heroines triumph by challenging, transgressing, or
overcoming boundaries, and Mrs. Baroda is no exception. Her boundaries are
implemented through the social idea of respectability.
Notably, Chopin never introduces Mrs. Baroda's first name, suggesting that she
has previously identified herself in terms of her attachment to her husband, but it may be
that her future affair will allow her to reclaim a stronger individual identity and sense of
self.

The Kiss by Kate Chopin


It was still quite light out of doors, but inside with the curtains drawn and the
smouldering fire sending out a dim, uncertain glow, the room was full of deep shadows.
Brantain sat in one of these shadows; it had overtaken him and he did not mind. The
obscurity lent him courage to keep his eyes fastened as ardently as he liked upon the girl who sat
in the firelight.
She was very handsome, with a certain fine, rich coloring that belongs to the healthy
brune type. She was quite composed, as she idly stroked the satiny coat of the cat that lay curled
in her lap, and she occasionally sent a slow glance into the shadow where her companion sat.
They were talking low, of indifferent things which plainly were not the things that occupied their
thoughts. She knew that he loved hera frank, blustering fellow without guile enough to conceal
his feelings, and no desire to do so. For two weeks past he had sought her society eagerly and
persistently. She was confidently waiting for him to declare himself and she meant to accept him.
The rather insignificant and unattractive Brantain was enormously rich; and she liked and
required the entourage which wealth could give her.
During one of the pauses between their talk of the last tea and the next reception the door
opened and a young man entered whom Brantain knew quite well. The girl turned her face
toward him. A stride or two brought him to her side, and bending over her chairbefore she
could suspect his intention, for she did not realize that he had not seen her visitorhe pressed an
ardent, lingering kiss upon her lips.
Brantain slowly arose; so did the girl arise, but quickly, and the newcomer stood between
them, a little amusement and some defiance struggling with the confusion in his face.
"I believe," stammered Brantain, "I see that I have stayed too long. II had no ideathat
is, I must wish you good-by." He was clutching his hat with both hands, and probably did not
perceive that she was extending her hand to him, her presence of mind had not completely
deserted her; but she could not have trusted herself to speak.
"Hang me if I saw him sitting there, Nattie! I know it's deuced awkward for you. But I
hope you'll forgive me this oncethis very first break. Why, what's the matter?"
"Don't touch me; don't come near me," she returned angrily. "What do you mean by
entering the house without ringing?"

"I came in with your brother, as I often do," he answered coldly, in self-justification. "We
came in the side way. He went upstairs and I came in here hoping to find you. The explanation is
simple enough and ought to satisfy you that the misadventure was unavoidable. But do say that
you forgive me, Nathalie," he entreated, softening.
"Forgive you! You don't know what you are talking about. Let me pass. It depends upon
a good deal whether I ever forgive you."
At that next reception which she and Brantain had been talking about she approached the
young man with a delicious frankness of manner when she saw him there.
"Will you let me speak to you a moment or two, Mr. Brantain?" she asked with an
engaging but perturbed smile. He seemed extremely unhappy; but when she took his arm and
walked away with him, seeking a retired corner, a ray of hope mingled with the almost comical
misery of his expression. She was apparently very outspoken.
"Perhaps I should not have sought this interview, Mr. Brantain; butbut, oh, I have been
very uncomfortable, almost miserable since that little encounter the other afternoon. When I
thought how you might have misinterpreted it, and believed things"hope was plainly gaining
the ascendancy over misery in Brantain's round, guileless face"Of course, I know it is nothing
to you, but for my own sake I do want you to understand that Mr. Harvy is an intimate friend of
long standing. Why, we have always been like cousinslike brother and sister, I may say. He is
my brother's most intimate associate and often fancies that he is entitled to the same privileges as
the family. Oh, I know it is absurd, uncalled for, to tell you this; undignified even," she was
almost weeping, "but it makes so much difference to me what you think ofof me." Her voice
had grown very low and agitated. The misery had all disappeared from Brantain's face.
"Then you do really care what I think, Miss Nathalie? May I call you Miss Nathalie?"
They turned into a long, dim corridor that was lined on either side with tall, graceful plants. They
walked slowly to the very end of it. When they turned to retrace their steps Brantain's face was
radiant and hers was triumphant.
Harvy was among the guests at the wedding; and he sought her out in a rare moment when
she stood alone.
"Your husband," he said, smiling, "has sent me over to kiss you."
A quick blush suffused her face and round polished throat. "I suppose it's natural for a
man to feel and act generously on an occasion of this kind. He tells me he doesn't want his

marriage to interrupt wholly that pleasant intimacy which has existed between you and me. I
don't know what you've been telling him," with an insolent smile, "but he has sent me here to
kiss you."
She felt like a chess player who, by the clever handling of his pieces, sees the game taking
the course intended. Her eyes were bright and tender with a smile as they glanced up into his;
and her lips looked hungry for the kiss which they invited.
"But, you know," he went on quietly, "I didn't tell him so, it would have seemed
ungrateful, but I can tell you. I've stopped kissing women; it's dangerous."
Well, she had Brantain and his million left. A person can't have everything in this world;
and it was a little unreasonable of her to expect it.
SUMMARY
Inside a dimly lit room with a smoldering fire, Brantain sits in a shadow,
gathering courage from the dark to stare at the handsome girl sitting in the light of the
flame. The girl composedly strokes her cat and glances from time to time at Brantain as
they make small talk and avoid deeper topics. Brantain loves her and she knows it, so she
is waiting for him to declare his love. She intends to accept his offer despite his
unattractiveness because he is immensely wealthy.
As their conversation pauses, a young man and close acquaintance of Brantain
enters the room. The girl turns to him, and before she can warn him of Brantain's
presence, he gives her a passionate kiss. Brantain rises, as does the girl, and the second
man reacts with confusion and amusement, as well as defiance.
Brantain awkwardly bids them farewell, not noticing that she has tried to shake
his hand, and he leaves. Meanwhile, the other man apologizes, but the girl, whose name
is Nathalie, rebuffs him and angrily asks why he did not ring the doorbell. He answers
that he arrived with her brother, who went upstairs while he tried to find Nathalie, and he
again asks her to forgive him. She expresses doubt that she will ever do so.

At the next reception, Nathalie seeks out Brantain, who is miserable but hopeful.
She tells him that the intruder, Mr. Harvy, is a close friend and that his physical
familiarity results from their sibling-like attachment to each other. She mentions her
worry over what Brantain must have thought about the encounter, and Brantain
delightedly forgives her, to her satisfaction.
Harvy attends the wedding of Nathalie and Brantain, and when he finds Nathalie,
he tells her that her husband sent him over to kiss her. Brantain does not want to interrupt
Harvy and Nathalie's relationship. This idea redounds to the pleasure of Nathalie, who
feels that she has manipulated everyone into his proper position. She prepares for a kiss,
but Harvy tells her that although he did not turn down Brantain's offer for fear of
sounding ungrateful, he has decided to stop kissing women because "it's dangerous."
Nathalie reflects philosophically that at least she still has the wealthy Brantain and that
she "can't have everything in this world."

ANALYSIS
By contrasting the room's "deep shadow" with the daylight that still exists outside
the house, the first paragraph of "The Kiss" establishes a dark, intimate atmosphere while
implying the presence of secrets and illicit emotions. This imagery thus foreshadows the
revelation that Nathalie is plotting to marry the good-natured but unattractive and rather
foolish Brantain while maintaining an affair with Mr. Harvy. Brantain's character is
reminiscent of several other men in Kate Chopin's stories, such as Brently Mallard in
"The Story of an Hour" and Gaston Baroda in "A Respectable Woman," in that Brantain
is portrayed as a well-meaning and not dislikable man who loves his eventual wife but
who fails to be desirable to her. Yet, we tend to feel little or no sympathy for the man
because Chopin tells the story through the eyes of the female protagonist, who has her
own aims.
Unlike most of the heroines of Chopin's stories, Nathalie does not face any
emotional trials or true mental conflict. Instead, she acts as a woman who has already

realized her potential and ability to satisfy her desires and who now tries to adjust the
actions of those around her in order to suit her wishes. In a way, Nathalie takes the hidden
motivations of Chopin's protagonists and takes them to an unpalatable extreme, since
Nathalie here is portrayed as having a calculating, imperious nature. Even so, Chopin
portrays Nathalie sympathetically in that we come to applaud her skill in turning bad luck
into a coup de grace; what initially appears to be the destruction of her carefully arranged
engagement turns into an opportunity to carry on her affair right in front of her husband.
Later, when Harvy ironically fails to become one of her pawns, she shows her practical
side and acknowledges her defeat, not only without rancor but even with an almost
amused, philosophic resignation.
Nathalie's machinations juxtapose Harvy with Brantain, who in his uncomplicated
nature and uninteresting appearance serves as a foil for the more dashing and intelligent
Mr. Harvy. Brantain and Harvy respectively correspond to two alternate paths for
marriage, where the former represents worldly riches and the sensible path, and the latter
represents a more passionate and romantic, but less socially useful, approach. Nathalie
clearly decides, when Mr. Harvy ends their relationship, that the first will suffice, at least
for now. Indeed, she benefits more from Brantain's assets than Harvy's since, as a
nineteenth-century woman from the upper class, she will have a great deal of time to
cultivate new affairs but has no likely way besides marriage to increase her material
wealth and social status.
Part of Nathalie's overall success comes from the fact that she is nothing like the
ideal Southern belle in anything other than her beauty. Chopin describes her as having "a
delicious frankness of manner" and being "apparently very outspoken," which contrasts
with the softer image of femininity that prevailed during the time. In addition, she
chooses to be forthright in her seduction both of Brantain, with her "engaging but
perturbed smile," and of Harvy, with "lips [that] looked hungry for the kiss which they
invited," giving her a strength of personality of which Chopin apparently approves. She
has fully claimed her sexuality, and she uses it with some skill in obtaining her goals.

If Brantain is a foil for Harvy, then Harvy is ultimately Nathalie's male


counterpart. At first they are in on the affair together (and it is not clear how much
Brantain ever really suspects). As he shows when he frustrates Nathalie's plans, however,
Mr. Harvy differs from Brantain in that he understands Nathalie's motives and has enough
cunning to match her schemes. He also echoes Nathalie's tension between passion and
pragmatism, and like Nathalie, he eventually chooses his own well-being over love and
romance. He surely has his own motives, and perhaps he does not merely worry that an
affair with Nathalie or any married woman (or other women) is dangerous; perhaps he is
hiding further secrets of his own. In any case, both Harvey and Nathalie acknowledge
that they may lose something from their decisions, but they do not particularly regret
their actions. In the end, Harvy is a far better match in personality for Nathalie, but only
Brantain will cede her the amount of autonomy and control that she requires.

A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin

STORYTELLER:
Little Missus Sommers one day found herself the unexpected owner of fifteen dollars. It
seemed to her a very large amount of money. The way it filled up her worn money holder gave
her a feeling of importance that she had not enjoyed for years.
The question of investment was one she considered carefully. For a day or two she
walked around in a dreamy state as she thought about her choices. She did not wish to act
quickly and do anything she might regret. During the quiet hours of the night she lay awake
considering ideas.
A dollar or two could be added to the price she usually paid for her daughter Janie's
shoes. This would guarantee they would last a great deal longer than usual. She would buy cloth
for new shirts for the boys. Her daughter Mag should have another dress. And still there would
be enough left for new stockings two pairs per child. What time that would save her in always
repairing old stockings! The idea of her little family looking fresh and new for once in their lives
made her restless with excitement.
The neighbors sometimes talked of the "better days" that little Missus Sommers had
known before she had ever thought of being Missus Sommers. She herself never looked back to
her younger days. She had no time to think about the past. The needs of the present took all her
energy.
Missus Sommers knew the value of finding things for sale at reduced prices. She could
stand for hours making her way little by little toward the desired object that was selling below
cost. She could push her way if need be.
But that day she was tired and a little bit weak. She had eaten a light mealno! She
thought about her day. Between getting the children fed and the house cleaned, and preparing
herself to go shopping, she had forgotten to eat at all!

When she arrived at the large department store, she sat in front of an empty counter. She
was trying to gather strength and courage to push through a mass of busy shoppers. She rested
her hand upon the counter.
She wore no gloves. She slowly grew aware that her hand had felt something very
pleasant to touch. She looked down to see that her hand lay upon a pile of silk stockings. A sign
nearby announced that they had been reduced in price. A young girl who stood behind the
counter asked her if she wished to examine the silky leg coverings.
She smiled as if she had been asked to inspect diamond jewelry with the aim of
purchasing it. But she went on feeling the soft, costly items. Now she used both hands, holding
the stockings up to see the light shine through them.
Two red marks suddenly showed on her pale face. She looked up at the shop girl.
"Do you think there are any size eights-and-a-half among these?"
There were a great number of stockings in her size. Missus Sommers chose a black pair
and looked at them closely.
"A dollar and ninety-eight cents," she said aloud. "Well, I will buy this pair."
She handed the girl a five dollar bill and waited for her change and the wrapped box with
the stockings. What a very small box it was! It seemed lost in her worn old shopping bag.
Missus Sommers then took the elevator which carried her to an upper floor into the
ladies' rest area. In an empty corner, she replaced her cotton stockings for the new silk ones.
For the first time she seemed to be taking a rest from the tiring act of thought. She had let
herself be controlled by some machine-like force that directed her actions and freed her of
responsibility.
How good was the touch of the silk on her skin! She felt like lying back in the soft chair
and enjoying the richness of it. She did for a little while. Then she put her shoes back on and put

her old stockings into her bag. Next, she went to the shoe department, sat down and waited to be
fitted.
The young shoe salesman was unable to guess about her background. He could not
resolve her worn, old shoes with her beautiful, new stockings. She tried on a pair of new boots.
She held back her skirts and turned her feet one way and her head another way as she
looked down at the shiny, pointed boots. Her foot and ankle looked very lovely. She could not
believe that they were a part of herself. She told the young salesman that she wanted an excellent
and stylish fit. She said she did not mind paying extra as long as she got what she desired.
After buying the new boots, she went to the glove department. It was a long time since
Missus Sommers had been fitted with gloves. When she had bought a pair they were always
"bargains," so cheap that it would have been unreasonable to have expected them to be fitted to
her hand.
Now she rested her arm on the counter where gloves were for sale. A young shop girl
drew a soft, leather glove over Missus Sommers's hand. She smoothed it down over the wrist and
buttoned it neatly. Both women lost themselves for a second or two as they quietly praised the
little gloved hand.
There were other places where money might be spent. A store down the street sold books
and magazines. Missus Sommers bought two costly magazines that she used to read back when
she had been able to enjoy other pleasant things.
She lifted her skirts as she crossed the street. Her new stockings and boots and gloves had
worked wonders for her appearance. They had given her a feeling of satisfaction, a sense of
belonging to the well-dressed crowds.
She was very hungry. Another time she would have ignored the desire for food until
reaching her own home. But the force that was guiding her would not permit her to act on such a
thought.

There was a restaurant at the corner. She had never entered its doors. She had sometimes
looked through the windows. She had noted the white table cloths, shining glasses and waiters
serving wealthy people.
When she entered, her appearance created no surprise or concern, as she had half feared it
might.
She seated herself at a small table. A waiter came at once to take her order. She ordered
six oysters, a chop, something sweet, a glass of wine and a cup of coffee. While waiting to be
served she removed her gloves very slowly and set them beside her. Then she picked up her
magazine and looked through it.
It was all very agreeable. The table cloths were even more clean and white than they had
seemed through the window. And the crystal drinking glasses shined even more brightly. There
were ladies and gentlemen, who did not notice her, lunching at the small tables like her own.
A pleasing piece of music could be heard, and a gentle wind was blowing through the
window. She tasted a bite, and she read a word or two and she slowly drank the wine. She moved
her toes around in the silk stockings. The price of it all made no difference.
When she was finished, she counted the money out to the waiter and left an extra coin on
his tray. He bowed to her as if she were a princess of royal blood.
There was still money in her purse, and her next gift to herself presented itself as a theater
advertisement. When she entered the theater, the play had already begun. She sat between richly
dressed women who were there to spend the day eating sweets and showing off their costly
clothing. There were many others who were there only to watch the play.
It is safe to say there was no one there who had the same respect that Missus Sommers
did for her surroundings. She gathered in everything stage and players and people -- in one
wide sensation. She laughed and cried at the play. She even talked a little with the women. One
woman wiped her eyes with a small square of lace and passed Missus Sommers her box of
candy.

The play was over, the music stopped, the crowd flowed outside. It was like a dream
ended. Missus Sommers went to wait for the cable car.
A man with sharp eyes sat opposite her. It was hard for him to fully understand what he
saw in her expression. In truth, he saw nothing -- unless he was a magician. Then he would sense
her heartbreaking wish that the cable car would never stop anywhere, but go on and on with her
forever.

TITLE

: A Pair of Silk Stockings

AUTHOR

: Kate Chopin

CHARACTERS

Mrs. SommersLittle Mrs. Sommers, as Kate Chopin phrases it


a shop girl
a gaudy woman next to Mrs. Sommers at the theatre
a man across from Mrs. Sommers on the cable car

TIME AND PLACE


The story takes place in an unnamed citya city large enough to have a department store,
a fashionable restaurant, a theatre, and a cable carprobably in the early 1890s.

THEMES
Some readers, as we explain in the questions and answers below, focus on the balance
between individual impulse and responsibility in the story. Some see rather a manipulation of

women by businesses hoping to create a market for expensive clothing, restaurant food, and
entertainment.

SUMMARY
Little Mrs. Sommers unexpectedly acquires fifteen dollars, which seems like a
large amount to her. Feeling important and wealthy, she considers how to invest her
money, feeling that she must carefully allocate her funds. During the night, she thinks of
a sensible use for the money.
She determines that she should spend a dollar or two extra for Janie's shoes, so
that they will last longer and be of better quality, and she plans to buy some fabric for her
children's clothing. After that, she will still have enough money for new stockings and
hats for everyone, which pleases her because her children will have new clothing for the
first time in a while. Mrs. Sommers used to have more money long ago, before her
marriage, but she does not worry about the past or the future, focusing mostly on the
present.
Mrs. Sommers is accustomed to bargaining, but today she is tired and forgets to
eat lunch prior to shopping. While sitting on a stool to rest before her shopping, she
realizes that her hand has brushed against a pair of two-dollar silk stockings. She
continues to feel the luxurious fabric and asks the shop girl for a pair in her size.
After choosing a black pair of stockings, Mrs. Sommers buys them and goes
directly to the ladies' waiting room to change. For once, she abandons thinking about
responsibility or about why she is so satisfied at her purchase. She sits in the room for a
while, reveling in her stockings, before going to the shoe department, where she tries to
find a pair of shoes to suit her stockings.
She pays for a stylish pair of boots, although they cost a dollar or two more than
her usual shoes, and she then goes to the glove counter. She has not been fitted with

gloves for a long time because they are too expensive, but she takes pleasure in the
experience. She also buys two expensive magazines such as those that she used to read
long ago, and she enjoys a new feeling of assurance in her new clothes.
Hungry, she decides against her usual approach, which is to wait until she returns
home and then find a bit of food. Instead, she follows her impulse and goes to a nice
restaurant, where she has a small, tasty meal as she takes off her gloves and reads her
magazine, sipping her wine. No one looks at her askance, and not minding the price, Mrs.
Sommers even leaves a tip for the waiter as she leaves.
She next enters a theater to watch a play. Many of the people are at the theater
primarily to enjoy the play, but Mrs. Sommers absorbs the entire experience. Afterward,
Mrs. Sommers waits for a cable car to take her home, and the man opposite her studies
her expression. Bemused, he sees nothing and does not discern her desire for the cable
car to keep going forever and never stop.

ANALYSIS
In "A Pair of Silk Stockings," Little Mrs. Sommers faces a minor dilemma that
eventually becomes a conscious expression of her desire to return to a past that she can
no longer have, reflecting her subconscious craving for the autonomy and independence
that she does not have while under the pressures of poverty. The nostalgic desire to
reclaim past grandeur recalls the dilemma of Ma'amePlagie in Chopin's eponymous
short story, although Ma'amePlagie lives in the past and sacrifices it for the present
whereas Mrs. Sommers lives in the present and temporarily leaves her reality in order to
recall her past. Mrs. Sommers does not merely aspire to wealth in the manner of those
who have never had money; instead, as Mrs. Sommers's neighbors note, she has in fact
seen better days and intuitively equates her youth with simple luxuries such as silk
stockings and kid gloves.

The second element of Mrs. Sommers's motivation for her impulse purchases
relates to her need to assert personal autonomy. As Chopin establishes at the beginning of
the story, Mrs. Sommers has several children to feed and clothe, and her first thoughts for
spending her money come directly from the need to scrimp and save every scrap of her
money. Although fifteen dollars had a great deal of purchasing power in the 1890s, much
more than it would have today, it was not a significant amount of money for the long
term. The indication that Mrs. Sommers cannot truly afford to spend it on luxury items
suggests that she is greatly constricted in her actions by the requirements of minimum
subsistence to which she is now reduced. Thus, Mrs. Sommers's purchase of silk
stockings, a plain symbol of relatively luxurious abundance, may be interpreted as her
attempt to deny the limits characterizing her worldly situation.
If Mrs. Sommers's excesses are a refutation of the powerlessness caused by her
lack of wealth, then the manner in which she succumbs to temptation is ironic because
Chopin's narration suggests that her decision to make her purchases is not made entirely
by choice. Whereas she actively plans to buy hats and clothes for her children, Chopin
describes her as "not thinking at all" after putting on her stockings. The tone of the
narration is distant and dreamy, with a simple description of Mrs. Sommers's actions and
limited discussion of her motivations. As a result, the protagonist seems to hold even less
control over her behavior when indulging herself than when the lack of money is the
deciding factor.
The readiness with which Mrs. Sommers gives in to temptation might seem at
first glance to be a sign of succumbing or exhaustion in the face of suppressed
consumerism. Certainly, Mrs. Sommers' lack of food and subsequent fatigue provide the
impetus for her initial acquisition of the silk stockings. Chopin's narration, however, does
not leave the impression of a woman who is weak and easily swayed. Instead, Mrs.
Sommers is not condemned and does not condemn herself for indulging herself and
providing a day of respite from her difficult life. Even when she returns by cable car to
her home, she shows no regret for her lack of fiscal control and exhibits only a wish to
continue her borrowed life. It seems that her dominant motivation for giving in is not the
crass joy of shopping but, as in so many of Chopin's stories, a deeply held urge toward

freedom, indulged here by releasing herself, however briefly, from the bonds of relative
poverty.
Although the end of "A Pair of Silk Stockings" does not end with Mrs. Sommers
in a position that is significantly worse than that in which she commenced the story, it
still bears an element of tragedy and loss. Fifteen dollars has been enough to bring Mrs.
Sommers back to her past and to give her an evanescent feeling of control, but it does not
suffice to change her basic situation. Although the purchases made by Mrs. Sommers will
remain with her until they wear out, almost all of the freedom that she enjoyed will
disappear once she leaves the cable car, and she will be left again with nothing but
memories and unfulfilled desire.

TITLE

: Secrets

AUTHOR

: Judy Troy

SUMMARY
The story is told from the first person point of view which is from a thirteen years
old Jeans. The introduction of the story is told in a quite straight forward manner as the
very first line gives the details on the death of the Jeans father, followed by the next lines
introducing the main characters of Eddie and Lee; her younger brothers of the ages
eleven and eight, respectively. The fall from a construction site at the workplace in
Jacksonville, Florida has caused their fathers death, the event which triggers the whole
conflicts happening in the story. As the story continues, there are many circumstances
taking place which are related to the loss of the family leader. It starts with the cookout
where Jeans mothers friends have mentioned about their feeling of sympathy towards
the loss; fading the hope that it should be the time to enjoy themselves and not for others
to bring up the misery to the thoughts of all Jeans family members. Back at home, her
mother is actually worried about the possibility that they will not get the pay from the
insurance company if the fall had been her fathers fault. It was the same night when Jean
reveals herself as having difficulties to sleep every night after his fathers death because
all the words she hears during the day have haunted her mind.
The death of her father has also affected Jeans attitude towards school. She is too
reluctant to go to school, claiming that she has actually got used to staying at home. She
ends up being absent for two weeks but she managed to get her best friends help in every
lesson she has missed. Jeans best friend, Nancy has a boyfriend of the same school and
the couple is currently not in a good term. When Jean attends classes as usual, she does
not feel comfortable receiving too much concern from her teachers and her friends who
are well informed about her fathers death. Meanwhile, there is a particular lesson which
the Mr. Thompson, the teacher is discussing a sentence from A Separate Peace with the
students. It leads to some interpretations that it is about a feeling you keep to yourself
because maybe its a secret you keep from yourself and people dont want to know
their own secrets; all which seem to apply to Jeans situation.
Throughout the story, there are a few circumstances portraying that the loss of the
father has affected Jeans brothers as well. Without the father, everybody has to be

responsible in making sure that the things which are previously dealt by him are now
being divided and executed fairly among the family members. As the story comes to the
end, their relationship as a family has reconciled that everybody is learning to accept the
fathers death and adapt to the new life they are living in while Jean has no problem
falling asleep for she wants to escape from reality at least for a while.
THEME
The story is set to present the life of a family after the death of the father plotted
by their struggle to adapt to his absence while they continue living. As most readers
would expect, the scenes portrayed as the story develops are full of descriptions on the
reactions of the characters involved towards the loss. Those would include the reactions
from the characters of Jeans family members, the neighbours, the mothers colleagues,
the teachers and also the friends in school. Not only verbally expressed, but also the
reactions depict the emotional sites of the characters, especially Jeans who own the voice
to speak the story out. In other words, the effects of losing the beloved one could be the
theme governing the story which is firmly supported and proven by the later events.
The theme is portrayed through the circumstances faced by the main characters of
Jean, her two brothers and most obviously, her mother. Through Jean, it might be quite
complicated for some readers to actually see and understand the effect of losing her father
in term of emotional reaction since she does not directly express her feeling on the loss.
Most of the times, she would just narrate the story with events without subtle emotional
description which then leads the readers to make their own interpretations on what is
actually felt by her. As for his two brothers, Lee, the youngest is considered the most
affected one especially by focusing on his actions where he used to verbally express his
memory of the days he had with his late father.
Apart from the family members, the fathers loss has also affected the societys
way of treating Jeans family that Jean herself is feeling quite awkward and displeased in
some ways. To discuss this psychoanalitically, it seems that there is a sense of denial in
Jeans personality as if she does not want to be retold about his fathers death while her
teachers and friends keep saying things about the loss as to show their concerns. That
sense of denial is only one of the psychological theories are present in a chapter. This

constitutes that the death of the beloved one in a family could as well affect the way the
society view the family with all concern and sympathy they portray. Even Jeans
grandparents from both her mothers and her late fathers sides have shown their concern
since they are well aware that the death would absolutely leave Jeans mother as a single
parent which they might think as helpless without the husbands presence.
Towards in depth discussion on the theme, there are several issues identified from
this story which could be worth referred to. Those issues would cover the instances and
interpretations of events in relation to the theme of the effect of losing a beloved one. In
short, the issues are made clear that they are always concordant with the major theme
stated.
ANALYSIS
The Issues
Since Secrets is a short story narrated and is given its voice by a teenage
girl who is just losing a man of the most important role in her life, there are issues
focusing on the character of Jean. Most importantly, her character shows up the
issue of self struggle with inner and outer conflicts she faces in order to adapt to
his fathers sudden farewell. The same conflicts apply to her brothers although it
is not emotionally expressed since they have not been given the full voice in this
story. Besides that, there is an issue about how people does not want to know the
truth if they could do so which might also be indicated as the denial of truth
within the peoples own conscience. As a societal norm, it is rather typical for
members of the society to show concern on others when there is such a family
being in a difficult condition. However, the issue is there is an element of irony
about the family members who at some points are distressed when they are
exposed too much to the societys spot light.
Self Struggle With Inner and Outer Conflicts
This issue is mostly portrayed by Jeans character as the narrator of the
story. Her inner conflict has resulted in her actions and reactions towards others.
Psychologically, Jean is well aware that she is the eldest among her siblings that

her mother would want to rely on her the most especially after his father died.
This consciousness has probably caused her to appear strong that there is not a
single event in the story which she appears pathetic even when others are showing
their concern for her. The truth is that she does explicitly admit that those things
about her late father mentioned by others during days have haunted her when she
is almost asleep, resulting in a number of sleepless nights.
As the talking about his late father comes from the people around her such
as her mothers colleagues, this has affected Jeans behaviour towards school. She
claims to his mother that she is not ready to face the people in school while within
her conscience she realizes that it is just an escapism for the fact that she is feeling
comfortable in a way because she could just stay at home; doing whatever she
pleases. As she starts attending classes again, another outer conflict comes from
Jeans friends and her teachers in school where everybody has been informed
about her fathers death. Listening to all the comments by her friends and being
called after classes to listen to the teachers says apply almost no impact on Jeans
expression from the outside but they might hurt her enough within her inner self
consciousness.
Sense of Denial Towards The Truth
While there is a saying goes the truth is sometimes hard to swallow,
Jeans family members characters do match the saying considering the
circumstances they face in their life after the father died. It is explicitly pictured
that at some points, Lee, the youngest son of the family is behaving as if he
forgets that his father is dead. For instance, he might be half conscious at the time
that he is just woken up asking about his father. However, there is no evidence or
voice of himself at his full consciousness denying the fact that his father is dead.
That would be a firm contrast to Jean, who always realizes the truth about his
father but deep inside she just could not accept the fact and she wish that she does
not even want to know about it.
At a point, this issue has come to be related to Jeans English class lesson
about Mr. Thompson introducing a sentence from A Separate Peace:

Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling,


deeper than thought, which contain the truth.
(lines 138-140)
The sentence is interpreted as to mean a feeling kept to oneself that he or
she does not want others to know because it is a secret. Another interpretation is
that it is about a secret that the owner himself does not want to know; an
interpretation which suits Jeans condition quite precisely. While everybody is
talking things regarding his late father, she has never voiced herself out stating
that she is upset or offended with that. Instead, she uses very calm language to
present every detail along the story line. This is proven once when Carla, her
classmate who appears to be extra kind towards Jean during lunch at one
particular day. Carla reads very loudly the note her mother put together with her
lunch which sounded like this:
Good luck on your geography quiz. Your father
and I are very proud of you, (lines 125-126)
Referring to those lines by Carla, it is well understood by other students
including Jean that Carla is showing off the love and attention she receives from
both of her parents through the note. Listening to the phrase your father and I
might have hurt Jean badly inside since she does not have the chance to feel her
fathers love anymore since he is dead. With that, readers could easily anticipate
that Jean would react to show her grieve; leaving the place or at least crying
helplessly in front of others. Instead, she breaks the silence by saying this line
very calmly:
Thats better than the one where she told you to
wash off your mascara, (lines 128-129)
The incident during lunch is also a circumstance which Jean being very
smart in avoiding her true feeling despite it is rarely happened that for one who
has just lost his loved one to act like there is nothing bad about that. In another
incident, the boys are even discussing the possible ways that have caused her
fathers death but she does not even bother to reveal in her narrative about how

does she react to that and also her feelings upon listening to such things about his
loved one.
Apart from that, Nancy has also portrayed a situation which reflects the
one faced by Jean. Nancy sees her boyfriend flirting with another girl, claiming
that she knows that he is just trying to hurt her in order to see if he could do it.
Jean disagrees by wondering how Nancy could think so (lines 167-170). The
point is Nancy knows his boyfriends true intention because she has done the
same too. Relating Nancys conscience on that matter to that of Jeans, Jean
should realize that no matter how good she is at avoiding feelings and denying the
fact (that his father is dead), she has to learn that a fact would stay as fact;
together with all the truths it carries behind.
Shift of Responsibilities Within The Family Members
Theoretically, there is a common view and even a strong approval of norm
in a society that men are the leaders for their respective families. As associated
with Feminist theory, this is actually the view of society from a patriarchal
perspective which has underrated womens potentials as well as causing them to
not realising any. For this reason, the death of a husband has left behind Jeans
mother to take the position of the family leader to manage almost everything for
them. The issue is not on the reluctance of the mother to hold the responsibilities
but it is about the members of the society who view a woman as hardly capable of
leading a family on her own. In other words, it is a sexual stereotype applied in
the case of Jeans mother through which a woman is considered helpless that she
has to be looked after; instead of the idea that she could be fine coping with the
new role as a leader in her own family.
This stereotyping of womans character has somehow being portrayed by
the characters of both sets of Jeans grandparents who want her family to leave for
Indiana, the place where the grandparents live. The idea is that living together in
the same place would make it possible for the grandparents to make sure that
Jeans family is doing fine without her fathers presence. However, Jeans mother
does not like the idea based on these lines:

They think Im helpless, my mother said, which


makes me angry. (lines 8-9)
In some ways, such stereotyped view on women might be the force that
drives Jeans mother to be determined, wise and strong enough to carry out all the
responsibilities left by her late husband. Since the earlier stages of the story, she
has depicted her determination to make sure everything will be fine from filling
the related forms, thinking about the pay from the insurance company until
dealing with the behaviour of the children who refuse to go to school; mourning
for the fathers death for a week by just staying at home. As the story comes to an
end, Jeans mother is described as doing her very best to make sure her children
would not feel too bad about losing a father. She appears to do the things that her
husband used to do while arranging the house chores to be carried out together by
the children.
The most significant event marking Jeans mothers paid-off effort is
narrated at the end of the story where the single parent is watching television with
the boys. As Jean passes by saying that she does not feel like watching, Eddie
straightly asked Who cares? The mother continues saying We all care very
sharply, followed by these lines:
We are all family, even without Dad. We care what
happens to each other. (lines 227-228)
Those words have made everybody feels touched that both of the boys
break down with tears on their faces. The same goes to Jean and even her mother
herself for that moment, all of them have come to realise that they are getting their
ordinary life again. In precise, that is the moment of rebirth for the whole family;
a wake up call especially for Jean to cause her to be able to enjoy sleeping again
after those sleepless nights haunted by the talks people made about her father.
Above all, Jeans acceptance of truth that her father is gone and her readiness to
live their lives even without him have brought her to sleep; fading away all that
has happened in her life recently.

Adaptations as Adjustments
The story, Secrets which was first published in the United States is a clean
story for young adults, especially in terms of the diction used by the author and
also the actions described. Nevertheless, there are still a few adaptations which
could be implied as to adjust the story into Malaysian context or they could be
just for adding some additional values to the events happened. In relation to this,
there are three adaptations to be discussed which include elements such as the
building of characters, development of issues as well as substitution of words or
sentences.
Building of characters
As acknowledged by readers, Secrets has hardly revealed or described
about the characters physical appearances, especially the main characters. If
their appearances are given more descriptions, this probably could give a glimpse
on how the characters portray themselves in the story. As for Jean herself, she has
described that she is tall and too heavy (line 38) while her brothers, Eddie and Lee
are rather small for their respective ages (line 37).

However, there is no

description on their mothers figure and appearances that the readers have no idea
on how she looks like. Descriptions on her are available implicitly when she is
portrayed as putting her concern on the insurance matters, managing the
household chores and coping up with her childrens behaviour after her husbands
death. With more descriptions added, it might help the readers to infer the
wherefores of the scene where both sets of Jeans grandparents look down on her
mothers ability to manage the family alone.
Making a glance at the characters of the grandparents, they have not been
pictured to appear more than once in this story. For the purpose of making the
storyline more vary in terms of characters, a little bit more descriptions or events
on these characters could be added. For instance, they could be portrayed as they
are regularly coming to Jeans house, trying to interfere in Jeans family matter as
to show concern. Consequently, they could see whether Jeans mother is capable
of carrying her duty as an effective single parent or not. In another point of view,

the highlight on the characters of the grandparents could also expand or develop
the issue of stereotyped perspectives on single mother introduced as early as the
story begins (lines 8-9).
Development of Issues
In Part A, there are three issues highlighted covering the issues of self
struggle, sense of denial towards the truth and also shift of responsibilities.
Discussing the issue of self struggle, Jean is depicted to have had enough of her
teachers and her friends who keep on talking about his late father. Despite all that,
it is not seen that Jeans friends especially her classmates, are offending her in
front of the teachers. For that reason, the scene where the boys are talking and
describing vividly about her fathers death (lines 107-111) could be shifted as
happening in the classroom where a teacher is in instead of happening in an
untold setting where only the children are involved.
The suggested scene is an adaptation to highlight on how the educated and
professional, represented by the teacher deals with this kind of unhealthy
conversation among the children. Then, the teacher would know how Jean reacts
upon the boys offensive tease that should portray Jean as her usual self; the not so
expressive girl in term of emotion in front of others. In fact, this adaptation might
also support the title of the story, Secrets since Jeans ignorance of her friends
teases seem as if she is determined and stone hearted enough to face the truth that
she hopes is not true at all the fact that his father is dead.
Alterations of Words and Sentences
As being mentioned earlier, the style of language used by the author to let
the character of Jean to narrate the story is rather clean which means there is no
harsh and inappropriate words has been used. Regardless of the teases from her
friends, Jean has never mentioned about them using any cursing and offensive
words while talking to her. It could be caused by the fact that Jean is simply
ignorant to mention about that or her friends simply do not use such words
anyway. Likewise, she might have to use words or sentences to describe at least

the tone or the facial expression of the annoying friends. For instance, the
sentence (line 111) could be altered that the adapted one would sound like this:
Wow, the boy said in half surprised and half
amazed. I can just picture that. He smirked then.
As a result, the alteration of the highlighted sentence with the addition of
words showing action and expression would generate the readers idea on the
effect towards Jeans emotion that she used to hide. Another alteration should be
made on the sentence in line 245. Instead of using the word underwear which
sounds slightly inappropriate for readers in school level to imagine, it could be
best to substitute the word with favourite T and short pants so that Jeans
appears more well covered in the mind of the readers.
CONCLUSION
The story of Jean and her family undergoing life after the loss of the father is very
appealing to readers since death is a natural event. Most significantly, it is the issue of
struggling with the multi sourced conflicts which strengthen the storyline. It could be
argued that the story is told by the flat voice of the narrator that it does not really convey
much emotion in telling about her life. In other words, she merely reports all the actions
without analyzing what is going on in each characters mind. Arguably, this style of
narrating needs not much adaptation, alteration or adjustment, except those suggested
earlier. This is due to the nature of the flat tone of narrating style which demands the
readers thought and conscience to interpret whatever is happening in the story. Above all,
if everything is to be made clear by the narrators voice, there would not be any
ambiguities to ponder; not even any Secrets to be argued. Undoubtedly, even with the
adaptations are not implemented, the story is already in its best state to be entitled as it is;
Secrets.

A&P by John Updike


In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. I'm in the third check-out slot, with
my back to the door, so I don't see them until they're over by the bread. The one that caught my
eye first was the one in the plaid green two-piece. She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a
sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never
seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs. I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo
crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not. I ring it up again and the customer starts giving
me hell. She's one of these cash-register-watchers, a witch about fifty with rouge on her
cheekbones and no eyebrows, and I knowit made her day to trip me up. She'd been watching
cash registers forty years and probably never seen a mistake before.
By the time I got her feathers smoothed and her goodies into a bag -- she gives me alittle
snort in passing, if she'd been born at the right time they would have burned her over in Salem -by the time I get her on her way the girls had circled around the bread and were coming back,
without a pushcart, back my way along the counters, in the aisle between the check-outs and the
Special bins. They didn't even have shoes on. There was this chunky one, with the two-piece -- it
was bright green and the seams on the bra were still sharp and her belly was still pretty pale so I
guessed she just got it (the suit) -- there was this one, with one of those chubby berry-faces, the
lips all bunched together under her nose, this one, and a tall one, with black hair that hadn't quite
frizzed right, and one of these sunburns right across under the eyes, and a chin that was too long
-- you know, the kind of girl other girls think is very "striking" and "attractive" but never quite
makes it, as they very well know, which is why they like her so much -- and then the third one,
that wasn't quite so tall. She was the queen. She kind of led them, the other two peeking around
and making their shoulders round. She didn't look around, not this queen, she just walked
straight on slowly, on these long white prima donna legs. She came down a little hard on her
heels, as if she didn't walk in her bare feet that much, putting down her heels and then letting the
weight move along to her toes as if she was testing the floor with every step, putting a little
deliberate extra action into it. You never know for sure how girls' minds work (do you really
think it's a mind in there or just a little buzz like a bee in a glassjar?) but you got the idea she had

talked the other two into coming in here with her, and now she was showing them how to do it,
walk slow and hold yourself straight.
She had on a kind of dirty-pink - - beige maybe, I don't know -- bathing suit with a little
nubble all over it and, what got me, the straps were down. They were off her shoulders looped
loose around the cool tops of her arms, and I guess as a result the suit had slipped a little on her,
so all around the top of the cloth there was this shining rim. If it hadn't been there you wouldn't
have known there could have been anything whiter than those shoulders. With the straps pushed
off, there was nothing between the top of the suit and the top of her head except just her, this
clean bare plane of the top of her chest down from the shoulder bones like a dented sheet of
metal tilted in the light. I mean, it was more than pretty.
She had sort of oaky hair that the sun and salt had bleached, done up in a bun that was
unravelling, and a kind of prim face. Walking into the A & P with your straps down, I suppose it's
the only kind of face you can have. She held her head so high her neck, coming up out o fthose
white shoulders, looked kind of stretched, but I didn't mind. The longer her neck was, the more
of her there was.
She must have felt in the corner of her eye me and over my shoulder Stokesie in the
second slot watching, but she didn't tip. Not this queen. She kept her eyes moving across the
racks, and stopped, and turned so slow it made my stomach rub the inside of my apron, and
buzzed to the other two, who kind of huddled against her for relief, and they all three of them
went

up

the

cat-and-dog-food-breakfast-cereal-macaroni-ri

ce-raisins-seasonings-spreads-

spaghetti-soft drinks- rackers-and- cookies aisle. From the third slot I look straight up this aisle
to the meat counter, and I watched them all the way. The fat one with the tan sort of fumbled
with the cookies, but on second thought she put the packages back. The sheep pushing their carts
down the aisle -- the girls were walking against the usual traffic (not that we have one-way signs
or anything) -- were pretty hilarious. You could see them, when Queenie's white shoulders
dawned on them, kind of jerk, or hop, or hiccup, but their eyes snapped back to their own baskets
and on they pushed. I bet you could set off dynamite in an A & P and the people would by and
large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists and muttering "Let me see, there was a
third thing, began with A, asparagus, no, ah, yes, applesauce!" or whatever it is they do mutter.
But there was no doubt, this jiggled them. A few house-slaves in pin curlers even looked around
after pushing their carts past to make sure what they had seen was correct.

You know, it's one thing to have a girl in a bathing suit down on the beach, where what
with the glare nobody can look at each other much anyway, and another thing in the cool of the A
& P, under the fluorescent lights, against all those stacked packages, with her feet paddling along
naked over our checkerboard green-and-cream rubber-tile floor.
"Oh Daddy," Stokesie said beside me. "I feel so faint."
"Darling," I said. "Hold me tight." Stokesie's married, with two babies chalked up on his
fuselage already, but as far as I can tell that's the only difference. He's twenty-two, and I was
nineteen this April.
"Is it done?" he asks, the responsible married man finding his voice. I forgot to say he
thinks he's going to be manager some sunny day, maybe in 1990 when it's called the Great
Alexandrov and Petrooshki Tea Company or something.
What he meant was, our town is five miles from a beach, with a big summer colony out
on the Point, but we're right in the middle of town, and the women generally put on a shirt or
shorts or something before they get out of the car into the street. And anyway these are usually
women with six children and varicose veins mapping their legs and nobody, including them,
could care less. As I say, we're right in the middle of town, and if you stand at our front doors
you can see two banks and the Congregational church and the newspaper store and three realestate offices and about twenty-seven old free-loaders tearing up Central Street because the
sewer broke again. It's not as if we're on the Cape; we're north of Boston and there's people in
this town haven't seen the ocean for twenty years.
The girls had reached the meat counter and were asking McMahon something. He
pointed, they pointed, and they shuffled out of sight behind a pyramid of Diet Delight peaches.
All that was left for us to see was old McMahon patting his mouth and looking after them sizing
up their joints. Poor kids, I began to feel sorry for them, they couldn't help it.
Now here comes the sad part of the story, at:least my family says it's sad but I don't think
it's sad myself. The store's pretty empty, it being Thursday afternoon, so there was nothing much
to do except lean on the register and wait for the girls to show up again. The whole store was like
a pinball machine and I didn't know which tunnel they'd come out of. After a while they come
around out of the far aisle, around the light bulbs, records at discount of the Caribbean Six or
Tony Martin Sings or some such gunk you wonder they waste the wax on, sixpacks of candy

bars, and plastic toys done up in cellophane that faIl apart when a kid looks at them anyway.
Around they come, Queenie still leading the way, and holding a little gray jar in her hand. Slots
Three through Seven are unmanned and I could see her wondering between Stokes and me, but
Stokesie with his usual luck draws an old party in baggy gray pants who stumbles up with four
giant cans of pineapple juice (what do these bums do with all that pineapple juice' I've often
asked myself) so the girls come to me. Queenie puts down the jar and I take it into my fingers icy
cold. Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream: 49. Now her hands are empty, not a
ring or a bracelet, bare as God made them, and I wonder where the money's coming from. Still
with that prim look she lifts a folded dollar bill out of the hollow at the center of her nubbled
pink top. The jar went heavy in my hand. Really, I thought that was so cute.
Then everybody's luck begins to run out. Lengel comes in from haggling with a truck full
of cabbages on the lot and is about to scuttle into that door marked MANAGER behind which he
hides all day when the girls touch his eye. Lengel's pretty dreary, teaches Sunday school and the
rest, but he doesn't miss that much. He comes over and says, "Girls, this isn't the beach."
Queenie blushes, though maybe it's just a brush of sunburn I was noticing for the first
time, now that she was so close. "My mother asked me to pick up a jar of herring snacks." Her
voice kind of startled me, the way voices do when you see the people first, coming out so flat
and dumb yet kind of tony, too, the way it ticked over "pick up" and "snacks." All of a sudden I
slid right down her voice into her living room. Her father and the other men were standing
around in ice-cream coats and bow ties and the women were in sandals picking up herring snacks
on toothpicks off a big plate and they were all holding drinks the color of water with olives and
sprigs of mint in them. When my parents have somebody over they get lemonade and if it's a real
racy affair Schlitz in tall glasses with "They'll Do It Every Time" cartoons stencilled on.
"That's all right," Lengel said. "But this isn't the beach." His repeating this struck me as
funny, as if it hadjust occurred to him, and he had been thinking all these years the A & P was a
great big dune and he was the head lifeguard. He didn't like my smiling -- -as I say he doesn't
miss much -- but he concentrates on giving the girls that sad Sunday- school-superintendent
stare.
Queenie's blush is no sunburn now, and the plump one in plaid, that I liked better from
the back -- a really sweet can -- pipes up, "We weren't doing any shopping. We just came in for
the one thing."

"That makes no difference," Lengel tells her, and I could see from the way his eyes went
that he hadn't noticed she was wearing a two-piece before. "We want you decently dressed when
you come in here."
"We are decent," Queenie says suddenly, her lower lip pushing, getting sore now that she
remembers her place, a place from which the crowd that runs the A & P must look pretty
crummy. Fancy Herring Snacks flashed in her very blue eyes.
"Girls, I don't want to argue with you. After this come in here with your shoulders
covered. It's our policy." He turns his back. That's policy for you. Policy is what the kingpins
want. What the others want is juvenile delinquency.
All this while, the customers had been showing up with their carts but, you know, sheep,
seeing a scene, they had all bunched up on Stokesie, who shook open a paper bag as gently as
peeling a peach, not wanting to miss a word. I could feel in the silence everybody getting
nervous, most of all Lengel, who asks me, "Sammy, have you rung up this purchase?"
I thought and said "No" but it wasn't about that I was thinking. I go through the punches,
4, 9, GROC, TOT -- it's more complicated than you think, and after you do it often enough, it
begins to make a lttle song, that you hear words to, in my case "Hello (bing) there,
you (gung) hap-py pee-pul (splat)"-the splat being the drawer flying out. I uncrease the bill,
tenderly as you may imagine, it just having come from between the two smoothest scoops of
vanilla I had ever known were there, and pass a half and a penny into her narrow pink palm, and
nestle the herrings in a bag and twist its neck and hand it over, all the time thinking.
The girls, and who'd blame them, are in a hurry to get out, so I say "I quit" to Lengel
quick enough for them to hear, hoping they'll stop and watch me, their unsuspected hero. They
keep right on going, into the electric eye; the door flies open and they flicker across the lot to
their car, Queenie and Plaid and Big Tall Goony-Goony (not that as raw material she was so
bad), leaving me with Lengel and a kink in his eyebrow.
"Did you say something, Sammy?"
"I said I quit."
"I thought you did."

"You didn't have to embarrass them."


"It was they who were embarrassing us."
I started to say something that came out "Fiddle-de-doo." It's a saying of my grandmother's, and I know she would have been pleased.
"I don't think you know what you're saying," Lengel said.
"I know you don't," I said. "But I do." I pull the bow at the back of my apron and start
shrugging it off my shoulders. A couple customers that had been heading for my slot begin to
knock against each other, like scared pigs in a chute.
Lengel sighs and begins to look very patient and old and gray. He's been a friend of my
parents for years. "Sammy, you don't want to do this to your Mom and Dad," he tells me. It's
true, I don't. But it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it's fatal not to go through with it. I
fold the apron, "Sammy" stitched in red on the pocket, and put it on the counter, and drop the
bow tie on top of it. The bow tie is theirs, if you've ever wondered. "You'll feel this for the rest of
your life," Lengel says, and I know that's true, too, but remembering how he made that pretty girl
blush makes me so scrunchy inside I punch the No Sale tab and the machine whirs "pee-pul" and
the drawer splats out. One advantage to this scene taking place in summer, I can follow this up
with a clean exit, there's no fumbling around getting your coat and galoshes, I just saunter into
the electric eye in my white shirt that my mother ironed the night before, and the door heaves
itself open, and outside the sunshine is skating around on the asphalt.
I look around for my girls, but they're gone, of course. There wasn't anybody but some
young married screaming with her children about some candy they didn't get by the door of a
powder-blue Falcon station wagon. Looking back in the big windows, over the bags of peat moss
and aluminum lawn furniture stacked on the pavement, I could see Lengel in my place in the
slot, checking the sheep through. His face was dark gray and his back stiff, as if he'djust had an
injection of iron, and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me
hereafter.

INTRODUCTION
In John Updikes short story A&P for example Updikes personal life and
writing career are not deemed important for the formalist critic but rather the story itself,
the independent work containing Sammy, a boy who exemplifies the common theme of
coming of age. The story uses symbols like The Establishment through Sammys boss
who is not only the manager of the towns supermarket, but is a Sunday school teacher
and Sammys parents friend. When Sammy rejects his bosss decision this is a symbolic
gesture, under formalist criticism, of a rejection of the establishment.
This does not, once again, have to represent actions that happened in Updikes
own life or true to life events of the time (even if both happened to be true)- the only
thing important to the formalist critic is the messages within the story and how we are
able to understand that message.
UNDERSTANDING NARRATIVE CONVENTIONS
So for the example used above, the narrative convention of a symbol is used by
Updike to represent The Establishment through the manager of a supermarket. Because
the protagonist rejects the establishment Updike wishes to discuss the greater theme of
how one becomes an adult by learning to recognize what the rules are (whether he or she
then rejects or accepts the rules is part of the persons own personality). Coming to this
conclusion (one of many possible conclusions) is coming to a close reading that can only
be achieved through formalist criticism.
CONCLUSION
Formalist criticism does not place importance on things like the authors life or
how the story could be understood as a representation of the specific time in history it

was written in. Only the work itself and how it is able to achieve meaning is important to
formalist criticism.
Sammy, a teenage clerk in an A & P grocery, is working the cash register on a hot
summer day when three young women about his age enter barefoot and clad only
inswimsuits, to purchase herring snacks.
Although they are dressed for the beach, Sammy allows the girls to continue
shopping while he appraises them sexually. He imagines details about the girls based on
their appearance alone, impressions that, to his surprise, are shaken when the leader of
the trio, a stunning girl he has dubbed "Queenie", speaks in a voice unlike that which he
had created in his mind. Lengel, the old and prudish manager, feels the girls are not
clothed appropriately for a grocery store, and admonishes them, telling them they must
have their shoulders covered next time, which Sammy believes embarrasses them.
Offended by the manager's disregard for the three customers' dignity, Sammy
ceremoniously removes his store apron and bow tie and resigns on the spot, despite the
mention by the manager of the pain this would cause his parents. Sammy then leaves the
store, seemingly in expectation of some display of affection or appreciation from the
young women involved, only to find that they've already left, apparently oblivious to his
presence. Sammy's disappointment in this development strikes a very typical Updike
theme.

Alice In Wonderland by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pseudonym Lewis Carroll)

Chapter 1-Down the Rabbit Hole: Alice is bored sitting on the riverbank with her sister, when
she sees a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a watch run past. She follows it down a rabbit hole
when suddenly she falls a long way to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She
finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit, but through which she sees an attractive
garden. She then discovers a bottle labelled "DRINK ME", the contents of which cause her to
shrink too small to reach the key. A cake with "EAT ME" on it causes her to grow to such a
tremendous size her head hits the ceiling.
Chapter 2-The Pool of Tears: Alice is unhappy and cries and her tears flood the hallway. After
shrinking down again due to a fan she had picked up, Alice swims through her own tears and
meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well. She tries to make small talk with him but all she can
think of talking about is her cat, which offends the mouse.
Chapter 3-The Caucus Race and a Long Tale: The sea of tears becomes crowded with other
animals and birds that have been swept away. Alice and the other animals convene on the bank
and the question among them is how to get dry again. The mouse gives them a very dry lecture
on William the conqueror. A Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a CaucusRace, which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Alice eventually
frightens all the animals away, unwittingly, by talking about her cat.
Chapter 4-The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill: The White Rabbit appears again in search of the
Duchess's gloves and fan. He orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve them, but once she
gets inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the lizard, to climb
on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals that have
gathered to gawk at her giant arm. The crowd hurls pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes,
which, when Alice eats them, reduce her again in size.
Chapter 5-Advice from a Caterpillar: Alice comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a blue
Caterpillar smoking a hooka. The Caterpillar questions Alice and she admits to her current
identity crisis, compounded by her inability to remember a poem. Before crawling away, the

caterpillar tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller and the other side will
make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink
smaller than ever, while another causes her neck to grow high into the trees, where a pigeon
mistakes her for a serpent. With some effort, Alice brings herself back to her usual height. She
stumbles upon a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height.
Chapter 6-Pig and Pepper: A Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess of the house,
which he delivers to a Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing
conversation with the frog, lets herself into the house. The Duchess's Cook is throwing dishes
and making a soup that has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess and her baby (but
not the cook or her grinning Cheshire Cat) to sneeze violently. Alice is given the baby by the
Duchess and to her surprise, the baby turns into a pig.
Chapter 7-A Mad Tea Party: The Cheshire Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March
Hare's house. He disappears but his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air prompting
Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat. Alice
becomes a guest at a "mad" tea party along with the Hatter (now more commonly known as the
Mad Hatter), the March Hare, and a sleeping Dormouse who remains asleep for most of the
chapter. The other characters give Alice many riddles and stories. The Mad Hatter reveals that
they have tea all day because time has punished him by eternally standing still at 6 pm (tea time).
Alice becomes insulted and tired of being bombarded with riddles and she leaves claiming that it
was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to.
Chapter 8-The Queen's Croquet Ground: Alice leaves the tea party and enters the garden
where she comes upon three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red
because the Queen of hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and
even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen. The Queen, a
figure difficult to please, introduces her trademark phrase "Off with his head!" which she utters
at the slightest dissatisfaction with a subject.

Alice is invited (or some might say ordered) to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the
rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets
and hedgehogs as balls and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts then
orders the Cat to be beheaded, only to have her executioner complain that this is impossible since
the head is all that can be seen of him. Because the cat belongs to the Duchess, the Queen is
prompted to release the Duchess from prison to resolve the matter.
Chapter 9-The Mock Turtle's Story: The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground at Alice's
request. She ruminates on finding morals in everything around her. The Queen of Hearts
dismisses her on the threat of execution and she introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her
to the Mock turtle. The Mock Turtle is very sad, even though he has no sorrow. He tries to tell his
story about how he used to be a real turtle in school, which The Gryphon interrupts so they can
play a game.
Chapter 10-Lobster Quadrille: The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster
Quadrille, while Alice recites (rather incorrectly) "Tis the voice of the lobster". The Mock Turtle
sings them "Beautiful Soup" during which the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial.
Chapter 11-Who Stole the Tarts?: Alice attends a trial whereby the Knave of hearts is accused
of stealing the Queen's tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard,
the White Rabbit is the court's trumpeter, and the judge is the King of hearts. During the
proceedings, Alice finds that she is steadily growing larger. The dormouse scolds Alice and tells
her she has no right to grow at such a rapid pace and take up all the air. Alice scoffs and calls the
dormouse's accusation ridiculous because everyone grows and she can't help it. Meanwhile
witnesses at the trial include the Mad Hatter, who displeases and frustrates the King through his
indirect answers to the questioning, and the Duchess's cook.
Chapter 12-Alice's Evidence: Alice is then called up as a witness. She accidentally knocks over
the jury box with the animals inside them and the King orders the animals be placed back into
their seats before the trial continues. The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42
("All persons more than a mile high to leave the court"), but Alice disputes their judgement and

refuses to leave. She argues with the King and Queen of Hearts over the ridiculous proceedings,
eventually refusing to hold her tongue. The Queen shouts her familiar "Off with her head!" but
Alice is unafraid, calling them out as just a pack of cards. Alice's sister wakes her up for tea,
brushing what turns out to be some leaves and not a shower of playing cards from Alice's face.
Alice leaves her sister on the bank to imagine all the curious happenings for herself.
THEME ANALYSIS

Alice in Wonderland is a coming of age story. It is the growth of Alice from an undisciplined child to a wise youn

In the end, Alice must overcome the nonsense of the young and the old before she truly understands what adultho

Psychoanalyzing Alice: The Child and Identity


Later psychoanalysts have focused more Alices experiences in Wonderland
functioning as an allegory for the developing ego, or, in other words, for growing up. For,
despite having been written by a middle-aged man, many critics have found it worthwhile
to study the character of Alice as an example of the child-mind dealing learning to
understand the world and itself. As Phyllis Stowell writes, Like all children, Alice must
separate herself from identification with others, develop an ego, become aware of
aggression (her own and others), and learn to tolerate adversity without succumbing to
self-pityIn

other

words,

Alice

has

to

grow

up.

(5)

Through her experiences in Wonderland, Alice gradually gains empowering insight and
self-understanding in order to embrace her own identity.
Identity is a crucial theme in Alice. Alice is asked to identify herself by several of
the creatures of Wonderland and often she is unable to respond. She usually feels that she
is too tall to be herself, or too small, or that she is another person altogether (I must have
been changed for Mabel!). And it is only when who she is and how she sees herself are
no longer subject to the erratic and uncontrollable unknown can she gain a measure of
power to deal with the absurdity around her (Stowell 7).
Phyllis Greenacre takes the allegory of childhood back even farther, to the time
when verbal language begins to supplant bodily activity, around fifteen to thirty months.
She calls Alice about as close a portrayal as can be accomplished in language of that
realm in childhoods development when the child is emerging from its primitive state of

unreason, to the dawning conception of consequences, order and reason (418). And
since Alice is a book meant for children that has actually been popular among children
for over a century, there seems to be some evidence that children relate to Alice since
they are facing the same challenges and issues regarding developing a reasonable view
of the universe and establishing their own identity.
CONCLUSION
Some critics have also focused on psychoanalyzing other characters in Alice. For
instance, Roheim identifies the Dormouses tendency to fall asleep as a symptom of
withdrawal (333), and Empson emphasizes the Queen of Hearts as a symbol of
uncontrolled animal passion (345). And of course the madness of the Mad Hatter and
the March Hare is a psychoanalytic playground especially regarding the Hatters
obsession with time.
Today, much of the psychoanalytic criticism of Alice seems out-dated,
unsurprising since most of it was written over fifty years ago. However, there is no
denying that psychoanalysis remains one of the milestones of Aliceinterpretation, and
certainly has affected and still affects all work done on Alice and Lewis Carroll.

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe

The chateau into which my valet had ventured to make forcible entrance, rather than
permit me, in my desperately wounded condition, to pass a night in the open air, was one of
those piles of commingled gloom and grandeur which have so long frowned among the
Appenines, not less in fact than in the fancy of Mrs. Radcliffe. To all appearance it had been
temporarily and very lately abandoned. We established ourselves in one of the smallest and least
sumptuously furnished apartments. It lay in a remote turret of the building. Its decorations were
rich, yet tattered and antique. Its walls were hung with tapestry and bedecked with manifold and
multiform armorial trophies, together with an unusually great number of very spirited modern
paintings in frames of rich golden arabesque. In these paintings, which depended from the walls
not only in their main surfaces, but in very many nooks which the bizarre architecture of the
chateau rendered necessary in these paintings my incipient delirium, perhaps, had caused me
to take deep interest; so that I bade Pedro to close the heavy shutters of the room since it was
already night to light the tongues of a tall candelabrum which stood by the head of my bed
and to throw open far and wide the fringed curtains of black velvet which enveloped the bed
itself. I wished all this done that I might resign myself, if not to sleep, at least alternately to the
contemplation of these pictures, and the perusal of a small volume which had been found upon
the pillow, and which purported to criticise and describe them.
Long long I read and devoutly, devoutedly [[devotedly]] I gazed. Rapidly and
gloriously the hours flew by, and the deep midnight came.[page 367:] The position of the
candelabrum displeased me, and outreaching my hand with difficulty, rather than disturb my
slumbering valet, I placed it so as to throw its rays more fully upon the book.
But the action produced an effect altogether unanticipated. The rays of the numerous
candles (for there were many) now fell within a niche of the room which had hitherto been
thrown into deep shade by one of the bed-posts. I thus saw in vivid light a picture all unnoticed
before. It was the portrait of a young girl just ripening into womanhood. I glanced at the painting
hurriedly, and then closed my eyes. Why I did this was not at first apparent even to my own

perception. But while my lids remained thus shut, I ran over in my mind my reason for so
shutting them. It was an impulsive movement to gain time for thought to make sure that my
vision had not deceived me to calm and subdue my fancy for a more sober and more certain
gaze. In a very few moments I again looked fixedly at the painting.
That I now saw aright I could not and would not doubt; for the first flashing of the
candles upon that canvass had seemed to dissipate the dreamy stupor which was stealing over my
senses, and to startle me at once into waking life.
The portrait, I have already said, was that of a young girl. It was a mere head and
shoulders, done in what is technically termed a vignettemanner; much in the style of the favorite
heads of Sully. The arms, the bosom and even the ends of the radiant hair, melted imperceptibly
into the vague yet deep shadow which formed the back ground of the whole. The frame was oval,
richly gilded and filagreed in Moresque. As a thing of art nothing could be more admirable than
the painting itself. But it could have been neither the execution of the work, nor the immortal
beauty of the countenance, which had so suddenly and so vehemently moved me. Least of all,
could it have been that my fancy, shaken from its half slumber, had mistaken the head for that of
a living person. I saw at once that the peculiarities of the design, of the vignetting, and of the
frame, must have instantly dispelled such idea must have prevented even its momentary
entertainment. Thinking earnestly upon these points, I remained, for an hour perhaps, half sitting,
half reclining, with my vision riveted upon the portrait. At length, satisfied with the true secret of
its effect, [page 368:] I fell back within the bed. I had found the spell of the picture in an
absolute life-likeliness of expression, which, at first startling, finally confounded, subdued and
appalled me. With deep and reverent awe I replaced the candelabrum in its former position. The
cause of my deep agitation being thus shut from view, I sought eagerly the volume which
discussed the paintings and their histories. Turning to the number which designated the oval
portrait, I there read the vague and quaint words which follow:
She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee. And evil was
the hour when she saw, and loved, and wedded the painter. He, passionate, studious, austere, and
having already a bride in his Art; she a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of
glee: all light and smiles, and frolicksome as the young fawn: loving and cherishing all things:

hating only the Art which was her rival: dreading only the pallet and brushes and other untoward
instruments which deprived her of the countenance of her lover. It was thus a terrible thing for
this lady to hear the painter speak of his desire to portray even his young bride. But she was
humble and obedient, and sat meekly for many weeks in the dark high turret-chamber where the
light dripped upon the pale canvass only from overhead. But he, the painter, took glory in his
work, which went on from hour to hour, and from day to day. And he was a passionate, and wild,
and moody man, who became lost in reveries; so that hewould not see that the light which fell so
ghastlily in that lone turret withered the health and the spirits of his bride, who pined visibly to
all but him. Yet she smiled on and still on, uncomplainingly, because she saw that the painter,
(who had high renown,) took a fervid and burning pleasure in his task, and wrought day and
night to depict her who so loved him, yet who grew daily more dispirited and weak. And in sooth
some who beheld the portrait spoke of its resemblance in low words, as of a mighty marvel, and
a proof not less of the power of the painter than of his deep love for her whom he depicted so
surpassingly well. But at length, as the labor drew nearer to its conclusion, there were admitted
none into the turret; for the painter had grown wild with the ardor of his work, and turned his
eyes from the canvass rarely, even to regard the countenance of his wife. [page 369:] And
he would not see that the tints which he spread upon the canvass were drawn from the cheeks of
her who sat beside him. And when many weeks had passed, and but little remained to do, save
one brush upon the mouth and one tint upon the eye, the spirit of the lady again flickered up as
the flame within the socket of the lamp. And then the brush was given, and then the tint was
placed; and, for one moment, the painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought;
but in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew tremulous and very pallid, and aghast, and crying
with a loud voice, This is indeed Life itself! turned suddenly to regard his beloved: She was
dead!

SUMMARY
The narrator and his valet break into an abandoned castle after the narrator is
wounded. The narrator settles in bed to contemplate the many pictures on the wall and
read about them in a book he has found. He suddenly notices the portrait of a young girl.
Something about it makes him shut his eyes at the sight of it; tentatively he opens them

again and is startled alert. He describes the style of the painting and its frame, but states
that it was not these which startled him, but rather the lifelikeness of the painting. The
narrator views the portrait at length and is "confused, subdued and appalled" by it. He
turns to the book on the paintings he had been reading. The book describes the subject of
the painting: a woman full of joy and love for all but art, which is the profession in which
her husband, a painter, is entirely engrossed. The painter goes on to paint his reluctant
wife, who humors his passion while pining for him. As the painter becomes more
engrossed in his work, his wife grows weaker and weaker, blind to the painting draining
the life of his wife (literally or figuratively?). The painter applies the final brushstroke,
cries about the painting "this is indeed life itself!" and the next moment his wife is dead.
ANALYSIS
The central idea of the story resides in the confusing relationship between art and
life. In "The Oval Portrait", art and the addiction to it are ultimately depicted as killers,
responsible for the young bride's death. In this context, one can synonymously equate art
with death, whereas the relationship between art and life is consequently considered as a
rivalry. It takes Poe's theory that poetry as art is the rhythmical creation of beauty, and
that the most poetical topic in the world is the death of a beautiful woman (see "The
Philosophy of Composition"). "The Oval Portrait" suggests that the woman's beauty
condemns her to death.
Poe suggests in the tale that art can reveal the artist's guilt or evil and that the
artist feeds on and may even destroy the life he has modeled into art.