Study Guide

The Widow

by Beth Lordan

The Widow Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Widow” is a lyrical exploration of the secret magic of the individual when one is able to see it. The story begins by flatly stating that the morning Warren Boyd dropped dead, he was the only living person on his farm. The second paragraph just as flatly describes Warren’s wife, Ann, who has been dead for three years, hovering in the upstairs bedroom watching.

After this somewhat unsettling opening, Beth Lordan’s magically realistic fantasy then narrates the life of Warren and Ann, which is quite ordinary, except for those moments when Ann sees Warren transfigured by shimmering bubbles of light. The first time she sees Warren transformed, she is in the upstairs bedroom thinking about jelly when he walks out of the milk-house slowly and gracefully, as if he were walking under water. Tiny air bubbles, gleaming like glass pearls, cling to his body.

The second time Ann sees him illuminated, he does somersaults in the yard as she watches from the bedroom window. She does not see the magical transformation again the rest of the year, although she keeps watch for the miracle. Then, in a sudden tragedy, Susan, the couple’s five-year-old daughter, catches a cold and dies at the end of the summer, and they are stunned by the “simplicity” of her death. In the spring, Warren returns from a trip to town, and Ann sees him get out of the car with a soft brilliance around his body, like mist off a barn roof. He turns in slows circles on the...

(The entire section is 463 words.)