Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Doug, the story’s first-person narrator, interprets the events, but most of the story’s plot concerns his brother Jacey. This choice of narrator allows for the story to be told by an observer who is close to the events and has an emotional investment in them but has some distance from the central events. Further, this narrator can interpret what has happened by comparing his views of the Abbotts to his brother’s. Not only does he tell Jacey’s story, but he also is able to understand his own reactions to the Abbotts by interpreting what has happened to his brother.

Like many of Sue Miller’s other stories and her novels such as The Good Mother (1986) and Family Pictures (1990), this story contains a fascination with how families function and why the members interact the way they do. The story reveals what Jacey and Doug find attractive about the Abbotts and what factors in their upbringing make the Abbotts fascinating for them. In addition, the story shows a great deal about the Abbott sisters—how and why they rebel against their parents and how they develop snobberies like those of their parents.

Social issues and their associated psychological components are common concerns of late twentieth century American literature, reflecting the many developments in the social sciences over the course of the century. This interest in issues of social class and in psychology is reflected in the many realistic details that...

(The entire section is 440 words.)