Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“In the Cage” provides James with the requisite length (about forty-five thousand words) for him to explore as fully as he wants the whole range of emotions that his telegraphist experiences as her life becomes entangled with that of Everard. In the hands of another writer, “In the Cage” might have been a much shorter tale: relatively taut, compact, and efficient. James, however, had a passion for telling it all, and his principal narrative technique was to explore the mind of the protagonist until all—or almost all—had been said.

James’s saturation technique is seen most directly in his presentation of the telegraphist vis-à-vis Everard. That is, she is always the protagonist, but different moments with Everard call for a different persona. Like a chameleon, she manages to become a variety of women while still remaining a telegraphist. In a sense, then, she is an actress who writes her own script—and chooses her own parts.

When Everard first comes to her attention, she is the dazzled, awestruck clerk. Shortly thereafter, once she has recognized his value to her and to her imagination, she becomes the enamored young woman, one of her favored roles. From time to time, while waiting on him, she sees herself as the dreamy, soulful paramour. On occasion, when she fears that her admiration for Everard may be showing on her face, she assumes the role of the poker-faced minion who singles out no patron for special attention. When she...

(The entire section is 434 words.)

In the Cage Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Anesko, Michael. “Friction with the Market”: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Henry James. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

Dewey, Joseph, and Brooke Horvath, eds.“The Finer Thread, the Tighter Weave”: Essays on the Short Fiction of Henry James. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 2001.

Edel, Leon. Henry James: A Life. Rev. ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Graham, Kenneth. Henry James, a Literary Life. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996.

Habegger, Alfred. Henry James and the “Woman Business.” New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Harden, Edgard F. A Henry James Chronology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Hocks, Richard A. Henry James: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1990.

Kaplan, Fred. Henry James: The Imagination of Genius. New York: William Morrow, 1992.

Lustig, T. J. Henry James and the Ghostly. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Martin, W. R., and Warren U. Ober. Henry James’s Apprenticeship: The Tales, 1864-1882. Toronto: P. D. Meany, 1994.

Nettels, Elsa. Language and Gender in American Fiction: Howells, James, Wharton, and Cather. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997.

Novick, Sheldon M. Henry James: The Young Master. New York: Random House, 1996.

Pollak, Vivian R., ed. New Essays on “Daisy Miller” and “The Turn of the Screw.” Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Rawlings, Peter. Henry James and the Abuse of the Past. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Tambling, Jeremy. Henry James. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.