Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

First published in The New Yorker, “Snow” appeared again as the opening piece of nineteen stories in Alice Adams’s second collection, To See You Again (1982). “Snow” is considered to be a classic of the short-story genre; work by its author has appeared for twelve consecutive years in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards.

As with much of her earlier writing, Adams uses the familiar terrain of California for her setting in this story. She writes about well-educated, upper-middle-class women in transit and transition who are feeling their way to independence as well as to a satisfying primary relationship. Her women are largely private people who like to figure things out for themselves, but who have a hard time of it and are not willing to compromise their moral codes. Perhaps carrying the burden of unpleasant childhood memories, they are perceptive but a bit world-weary. They seem shy, yet they hunger for fulfillment and validation, which usually comes about through a change that they had not anticipated.

Although there is a decided focus on women in Adams’s stories, it is not accurate to label her as solely a feminist writer. In “Snow,” Adams breaks some gender-based stereotypes but reinforces others. Susannah and Rose are comfortable and open with their lesbianism, and Carol owns and runs a florist business, but Graham nevertheless functions as the caretaker and provider for these women. He enjoys his...

(The entire section is 567 words.)