Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The story is told from a limited third-person point of view. Although the narrator reveals considerable information about the other characters at the dance, the story is mostly experienced through the consciousness of Bridie. The narrative itself is fairly straightforward. A brief exposition is followed by the scene at the Saturday night dance, where all the crucial thoughts and events take place. Occasional flashbacks in Bridie’s mind give the reader insight into her past disappointments.

The rural Irish setting, the atmosphere in the dance hall, and the characters who gather there are all created with a deadly accurate realism: the colloquial, cheery dialogue; the vulgar gaudiness of the dance hall; the puritanical outlook of its owners, Justin Dwyer and his wife; the seedy unattractiveness of the men; and the forced gaiety of the women.

Trevor’s stories often crystallize around a single moment of realization or decision, in which the protagonist gains insight into his or her situation and makes some kind of bargain with life. Usually this is a completely internal process, and no one knows about it but the protagonist. Nevertheless, the moment is crucial and vitally affects the protagonist’s attitude toward his or her life. So it is with this story. As she leaves the dance, Bridie realizes that she will never go there again. She has for a moment seen herself as she thinks others might see her, and she wants none of it. Looking at Madge Dowding, another single woman only slightly older than she, she realizes that like Madge, she is a woman approaching middle age who is making a fool of herself by chasing after unavailable bachelors. The second, more serious revelation, is her knowledge that eventually she will marry Bowser Egan, a man for whom she appears to have no feelings of affection. At least she has acquired some self-knowledge, and she awaits her fate with resignation.