man looking around a room followed by a ghostly woman

The Furnished Room

by O. Henry

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What are the young man's thoughts on the housekeeper's appearance in "The Furnished Room"?

Quick answer:

In "The Furnished Room," the young man is repulsed by the appearance of the housekeeper. He describes her as "fat" and "legless," while stating that she has no color and looks like something that has crawled up from underground in search of sustenance.

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The young man is remarkably unkind in his description of the housekeeper and homeowner who answers the door when he knocks while looking for accommodation.

He describes her as "fat" and "legless," which implies that her body looks so round that you cannot tell where her torso ends and her legs begin. He describes her not as a person but as a "thing," before adding the unpleasant image of the "thing" having crawled out of a hole in the ground like some grotesque creature.

He also states her to be "colorless," which creates an image of a pasty, nocturnal creature that never ventures out into daylight.

Over and above this, he unfairly creates an image of this woman whom he has just met as some type of predator. By stating that this creature looks as though it is looking for "something, or someone, to eat," he makes this woman out to be as dangerous as a wild animal.

The young man has made an instant decision to dislike this woman, and even her voice, although it is soft, is offensive to him. Although this is an unfair first impression, it is arguable that the woman later earns his instinctive dislike when she lies to him about the previous occupants of his room. However, none of his dislike or distrust of her prevents him from taking the room that she has to offer.

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