Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Prose presents a realistic portrait of Coral’s struggle to get on with her life. It succeeds because it first allows the reader to believe in what Coral has to endure. Coral’s reactions immediately after hearing the news of her husband’s death are not unlike those experienced by anyone who has abruptly lost a loved one. Coral’s initial responses are almost surreal as the rituals of the funeral and visitors offering consolation take on the cartoonlike qualities of a wacky animated feature for her. Afterward, as she settles into a bare existence, Prose again hits the mark, achieving for the reader a feeling of sluggish inertia as Coral stares at her Newsweek magazines, heats frozen dinners, or lies awake nights worrying about her baby.

The next stage of Prose’s story takes Coral from her nearly catatonic existence to one of renewed strength and hope. Though real change will take more time, the progression is discernible in gradual degrees. After relocating to Margo and Gene’s trailer, Coral meekly submits to Margo’s suggestions and commands. All the time she is conscious of her unborn baby, and it is evident by her concern about the landfill, for instance, that even before she begins to recover, her baby is foremost in her mind.

As Coral gradually reawakens to the world around her, the characters of Lee and Tracy are introduced. Because they are both odd figures, they initially provide a source of fun as Margo and Coral...

(The entire section is 428 words.)