The Lady's Maid

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LOVE
By Jesse Stuart

The short story Love written by Jesse Stuart tells us about a minor happening somewhere on a corn farm from the point of view of one of the character – a boy or a young man, whose name isn’t given to us. The story starts with the exposition. We get acquainted with the protagonist, his father and their dog, Bob, who go to the edge of a new corn ground to plan a fence. The setting of the story is established in the exposition. It isn’t profound. We simply find ourselves on a corn field lit with bright sunlight. The main function of the setting is to strengthen the verisimilitude of the story and make it “general” so as to focus our attention on our life in general and not to distract it from the significance of the events. Then start the moments of complication. The protagonist’s father notices a squirrel, and, as squirrels do harm to the corps, he sets his dog on it. However, instead of finding a squirrel, the dog runs into a bull snake. The father commands to attack the snake. The protagonist disagrees, supporting his point of view with the argument that a bull snake is harmless. Moreover “It kills poison snakes. It kills the copperhead. It catches more mice from a field than a cat.” However, the father tells the dog to kill it. He says he hates snakes. The dog kills the snake and by doing it he slings some eggs from its body. The characters now understand that the snake had come to lay the eggs. This event makes the protagonist compare the snake with a human woman, giving birth to a child and not sparing their own lives to protect it from any threats. Next morning the protagonist and his father head to the clearing’s edge. Suddenly the protagonist notices another snake – a bull blacksnake. He realizes that it had come at night to its dead lover. This is the most crucial event of the story, emphasizing the strong parallel between the animal world and the world of people. However this time the father isn’t willing...

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Friday, May 7, 2010
“The Wind Blows” by Katherine Mansfield
In Katherine Mansfield’s “The Wind Blows” Matilda wants urgently to flee her mother’s superficial, stifling world of appearances. So acute is Mansfield’s understanding of her adolescent protagonist’s need to have her inner world recognized, and so skillful is she in portraying this desire, I felt I was reading a story set in the present day, or in any day for that matter.

An autumn wind disturbs Matilda’s sleep, pulls her into a tumultuous day, and the story begins.

After getting dressed, Matilda, on route to her music lesson, tries to leave the house without having her appearance assessed by her mother, but her mother sees her: “Matilda. Matilda. Come back in im-me-diately! What on earth do you have on your head? It looks like a tea-cosy. And why have you got that mane of hair on your forehead?” (107).

A moment later, Matilda tells her mother to “go to hell” (107) and “run[s] down the road” (107). Matilda’s defiance could not be more intense, decisive, or directly portrayed.

At her music lesson, Matilda grows warmly fond of her music teacher, Mr. Bullen, a man honoring music and soul rather than appearances. Mansfield tells us that “[Matilda’s] fingers tremble so that she can’t undo the knot in the music satchel” (108). She blames the autumn wind for her unsteady hands, or, in other words, for her excitement in his comforting presence.

Later, in her bedroom, confronted with the stockings “knotted up on the quilt like a coil of snakes” (109) that her mother wants her to darn, Matilda refuses and then wonders if anyone has ever written poems “to the wind” (109), suggesting that she, unlike her mother, who is annoyed by the wind, is thrilled by its wildness; because poems emerge from one’s core, her desire to write a poem gives us the strong sense, again,...
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