(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Mirrors” is told in second person. The narrator explains to the reader the thoughts of a man and woman about their thirty-five-year marriage. Their contemplations center on the symbolic meanings of mirrors and what banning them from their summer home has meant over the years. The action consists of the revelations of the characters. The story includes many details about what has happened to the couple over the thirty-five-year period but does not contain any action beyond their memories and observations.

The story opens with the husband thinking about how many of the people he has known have sacrificed something—television, sugar, neckties. His friends have the idea that making a sacrifice will improve them in some way. He and his wife have sacrificed mirrors in their summer house; for two months of the year, they have rejected what the husband perceives as a basic human need to observe themselves. The wife even removes the mirror from her compact when they go to the house.

When asked by friends how he manages to shave, the man replies that he does it by feel. The woman does her hair and makeup by feel also. The man has watched her put on her lipstick so many times that he sometimes wants to stretch his mouth the way she does when he is watching her; this is one of many details in the story that show the husband and wife mirroring each other in both literal and figurative ways.

The man’s meditation on his life is triggered by his retirement a week earlier from his management consulting company. His wife has been a housewife and volunteer, and they are described as being extremely typical except for their rejection of mirrors for the summer.

After the introductory material sets the scene, the story jumps back in time to explain how the...

(The entire section is 732 words.)