Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

There are a number of recurrent image patterns in the story that underline its themes and meanings. Romantic images of light and beauty are associated with Eden. The sun, the moon, and the stars are all connected with her, and her apartment is airy and full of light. Hedger, by contrast, is seen in terms of images of darkness. His apartment is dark and dingy and his desperate attempts to clean it up after he has met Eden are to no avail. He is also seen as living in a kind of fish tank, suggestive of the artist’s necessary isolation from the more active pursuits of life. Animal images add to this idea of isolation: Hedger is compared to a wolf and also to his dog Caesar.

The mythic dimension of the story is another significant aspect of Cather’s technique. As a kind of modern-day Venus, Eden Bower takes on an allegorical dimension, yet there are many ambiguities in this view of her. On one level, she transcends the triviality of her own individual nature and is certainly viewed with sympathy and even admiration by Cather. Similarly, Cather can mock Hedger because of his lack of interest in worldly things. However, Hedger remains the type of the true artist, while Eden, possessing both artistic talent and a powerful, almost superhuman, beauty that connects her to the world of myth, is perhaps not really an artist at all by Cather’s definition.

Coming, Aphrodite Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Bloom, Edward A., and Lillian D. Bloom. Willa Cather’s Gift of Sympathy. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1962.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Willa Cather. New York: Chelsea House, 1985.

Gerber, Philip L. Willa Cather. Rev. ed. New York: Twayne, 1995.

Goldberg, Jonathan. Willa Cather and Others. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2001.

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

O’Connor, Margaret Anne, ed. Willa Cather: The Contemporary Reviews. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Romines, Ann, ed. Willa Cather’s Southern Connections: New Essays on Cather and the South. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000.

Shaw, Patrick W. Willa Cather and the Art of Conflict: Re-visioning Her Creative Imagination. Troy, N.Y.: Whitston, 1992.

Skaggs, Merrill Maguire, ed. Willa Cather’s New York: New Essays on Cather in the City. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2001.

Stout, Janis P. Willa Cather: The Writer and Her World. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000.

Stout, Janis P., ed. Willa Cather and Material Culture: Real-World Writing, Writing the Real World. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2005.

Wasserman, Loretta. Willa Cather: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1991.

Woodress, James. Willa Cather: A Literary Life. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.