Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Two complications often arise with first-person narrators: The narrator might be unreliable, and the reader is limited by the narrator’s knowledge. In spite of her lying, LeLe is not an unreliable narrator. She reveals the truth to the reader at some point before lying to Baby Gwen, the maid, or Fielding. She even admits that she starts believing in her own lies and has befriended a girl with a wooden arm only for the sake of her own reputation. Such honesty to herself, although ironic given her seemingly uncontrollable compulsion to lie to others, is endearing, allowing the reader to forgive her outward dishonesty and hypocrisy.

LeLe reports at the beginning of the story that she is going to Mississippi to keep Baby Gwen company because Baby Gwen’s mother has recently died. She also comments that her father tells her about the invitation just after her own mother has left him for some ambiguous reason having to do with jealousy, which LeLe does not explain. The reader wonders, therefore, if LeLe’s father is actually sending her away because he does not want to be burdened with taking care of her by himself, or so that he can continue an affair. Her parents are not mentioned again until the end of the story, reflecting either LeLe’s lack of concern about their problems or her desire to forget the family troubles back home. Perhaps she senses that she has been discarded and does not want to think about the implications of this. Either of the latter two possibilities shed light on her drive to be popular beyond the disappointment over her school’s cheerleader tryouts. Because she is the one telling the story, if LeLe does not want to think about her parents, then the reader has no further hints to ponder.

The reader can discern the implications of other subtle...

(The entire section is 734 words.)