Style and Technique (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Price has not only managed to capture expertly the speech patterns of people from Warren County, North Carolina, but has also managed to capture in all of its detail the rich fabric of family life in that part of the country. “A Chain of Love” exudes authenticity. If its title is a bit ironic—chains do, after all, bind—the irony is softened because the love is genuine. If the love is also a bit cloying, it seems a small price to pay for the security it offers. The story’s dialogue, both overt and internal, is rambling and discursive. It is filled with details, not all of them pertinent. Nevertheless, it is just these qualities that make the dialogue totally believable to anyone who has experienced the part of the country about which Price is writing.
Price presents his characters with considerable skill. In this story, the reader sees almost nothing of Milo’s wife, Sissie, yet every word that is spent on her serves to build an unforgettable image of a woman who feels outside the family, who is frustrated at not being accepted more fully, and who is forced into doing things that she does not want to do because the family decrees it. Milo is caught in the middle and tries to humor Sissie. Price stays in total control of his characters by remaining always within the limitations imposed by the point of view he has selected. He provides no information that is not available within his chosen viewpoint. His ability to keep his focus accurate and consistent is noteworthy.
Bibliography (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Drake, Robert, ed. The Writer and His Tradition. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1969.
Humphries, Jefferson, ed. Conversations with Reynolds Price. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1991.
Kaufman, Wallace. “A Conversation with Reynolds Price.” Shenandoah 17 (Spring, 1966): 3-25.
Price, Reynolds. Learning a Trade: A Craftman’s Notebooks, 1955-1997. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998.
Rooke, Constance. Reynolds Price. Boston: Twayne, 1983.
Schiff, James A., ed. Critical Essays on Reynolds Price. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.
Schiff, James A., ed. Understanding Reynolds Price. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.
Shuman, R. Baird. “Reynolds Price.” In Encyclopedia of American Literature, edited by Steven R. Serafin. New York: Continuum, 1999.
Woiwode, Larry. “Pursuits of the Flesh, Adventures of the Spirit.” The Washington Post Book World, April 26, 1981, p. 5.
Wright, Stuart, and James L. West III. Reynolds Price: A Bibliography, 1949-1984. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986.