“The Wedding,” set in a provincial English countryside, is the occasion for a counterpoint between the educated and the rustic, the return of a sophisticated woman to her hamlet, a wedding that ignites a series of developments, and a dénouement that satisfies the major participants. With vivid descriptions, a sly humor, and a portrayal of various people and their foibles, Pritchett enfolds the tale of Mrs. Christine Jackson, who left the town when she married a wealthy man but returned as a teacher at a local college. She encourages Tom Fletcher, a forty-year-old widower, to permit Mary, his daughter, to go on to the university since the young woman is brilliant. Tom demurs, because after Flo, his other daughter, is married, he will be alone—and besides, Mary will need only the rudiments of running a household when she marries.
The story is developed through a number of narrators. At the very beginning, Tom is talking to his friend Ted and makes a number of rude and sexually belittling remarks about Mrs. Jackson. At the wedding, Mrs. Jackson talks with a number of various people, mostly common folk. The mood, as is usual at weddings, is festive as the guests remember their own weddings with a mixture of hope and sadness.
Pritchett’s dialogue is witty and provincial as Tom gives away his daughter. The wedding feast is Oriental, and after the guests have eaten, there takes place a local custom of lassoing of women by men. Most of the women accept the sport with humor. When Mrs. Jackson begins to leave, Tom urges her to remain, but she says she must leave. Suddenly, Tom lassoes her and she loses her hat, her balance, and her dignity as the rope pinches her waist. Her student Mary is aghast. Suddenly, Mrs. Jackson asserts the initiative as she pulls the rope out of...
(The entire section is 735 words.)