A Woman on a Roof Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

This is the story of seven days during a June heat wave in London. One day, three men repairing the roof of an apartment building in the baking sun see a woman sunning herself on an adjoining roof. Taking advantage of her apparent privacy, she undoes the scarf covering her breasts. When Harry, the oldest worker, leaves to borrow a blanket to put up for shade, Stanley and the seventeen-year-old Tom let out wolf whistles at the woman, but she ignores them. At the end of the day, first Stanley, then Tom, goes to the end of the roof to spy on the woman. Stanley makes a crude remark to the others, but Tom keeps what he sees to himself.

The second day, the men look for the woman as soon as they get on the roof. She is lying face down, naked save for little red bikini pants. When Stanley whistles, she looks up, but then ignores them again. Angered by her indifference, all three men whistle and yell. After Harry calms the other two, they go to work. The sun is even hotter than the day before. That afternoon, while Harry goes for supplies, the other two men scramble over the rooftop until they are looking straight down at the woman. Stanley whistles. She glances at them, then goes back to reading her book. Stanley, furious at her rejection, jeers and whistles, while Tom stands by, smiling apologetically, trying to say with his smile that he distances himself from his mate. He dreamed about her the previous night, and in his dream she was tender to him. When the three workers make their last trip to look at the woman before leaving for the day, Stanley is so angry that he threatens to report her to the police.

The third day is the hottest yet. Harry looks for the woman first, largely...

(The entire section is 694 words.)