illustrated portrait of American author Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson

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How does the salesgirl feel when a customer criticizes her in "Mrs. Melville Makes a Purchase"?

In “Mrs. Melville Makes a Purchase,” the salesgirl receives Mrs. Melville complaints politely, indifferently, and almost gleefully. She doesn’t seem to care too much about Mrs. Melville’s issues with her service. She even directs Mrs. Melville to the complaint department on the ninth floor.

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Charles” is Shirley Jackson’s short story about a boy named Laurie. Laurie tells his parents about a boy named Charles. Charles behaves awfully at school. Yet Charles’s awful behavior seems to be the product of Laurie’s imagination. At the end, the reader finds out that there is no Charles.

In “Charles,” there are no customers, critical or otherwise. However, in another well-known Shirley Jackson short story, there is a critical customer. That short story is called “Mrs. Melville Makes a Purchase.” The critical customer is Mrs. Melville. She is quite upset that the salesgirl is “gossiping and smiling” instead of helping her.

The salesgirl replies to Mrs. Melville’s demands or “criticisms” calmly and politely. She nods. She says she’ll be with Mrs. Melville in a minute.

When the salesgirl finally does help out Mrs. Melville, she and Mrs. Melville bicker about the size and the color of the blouse. You could say that the salesgirl body shames her.

After finally buying the blouse, Mrs. Melville tells the salesgirl that she intends to report her. The sales girl, once again, takes the reproof calmly and with a smile. She even directs Mrs. Melville to the complaint department.

After leaving the salesgirl, Mrs. Melville experiences more problems. Someone has taken her blouse. She has to return to the salesgirl to deal with this turn of events.

Reunited, Mrs. Melville continues to issue critiques. The salesgirl continues to receive them with a mix of indifference, glee, and body shaming.

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