In this story by Eudora Welty, the young Campfire Girl Marian visits two elderly women who are roommates in a nursing home. They are presented initially as having contrasting personalities and behavior. One is loquacious and outgoing; the other, quiet and taciturn. The situation changes, however, as the quiet woman directs a powerful diatribe against her roommate.
The talkative woman is described as birdlike, and with her hand, which is similarly clawlike, she plucks the girl’s hat from her head. She sits in a rocking chair, where her increasing speed at rocking amazes Marian. One of her themes is reminiscing about being a schoolgirl (like Marian is currently).
Addie observes these events from her bed, which she cannot leave. To Marian, Addie looks like a sheep. Addie is not happy to receive a visit from this perfect stranger. The roommate reveals that it is Addie’s birthday, of which she does not want to be reminded. Addie lashes out at her in a vicious tirade. Not only does she accuse her of lying, she denies her existence, saying she is nothing at all. This seems to exhaust Addie, who refuses even to tell her age and then starts to cry.