Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

It is a point of natural interest that Perri Klass wrote this story when she was a medical school student at Harvard, where she also taught expository writing. This biographical note does not, however, help explain the title or answer other questions about this straightforward six-page story. Why was the narrator “Not a Good Girl,” as the title reveals? Certainly not because she goes to bed with an agreeable young man whom she has just met. Nothing that she says suggests that she feels any guilt about the matters to which she alludes quite matter-of-factly. In the first paragraph she explains that going to bed with men she has just met is not something that she does “ferociously often.” In fact, in the last six months or so, she has not even slept with anyone. Her celibacy, however, has had nothing to do with principle, only with being hard at work.

One possible clue to the story’s title may relate to the fact that Eric is four or five years younger than the narrator. The narrator’s realization that he is a student still in his “callow youth” contributes to her feeling that their sexual relations are leading too rapidly into an emotional involvement that she has no wish to develop. Eric’s pursuit of the tormenting urchins embarrasses her, making her think that they are deep into “maybe someone else’s relationship, certainly not mine.”

The narrator’s suspicion that Eric is “someone else’s man” intensifies with...

(The entire section is 551 words.)