In "The Blush," why exactly does Mrs. Allen blush after Mr. Lacey leaves?
This short story depicts two women who are separated from each other irreversibly by class. Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Lacey don't understand each other because of the very different lives they lead. Mrs. Allen envies her homehelp the domesticity she supposedly enjoys, and her drink at the pub at the end of the day. Mrs. Lacey in turn finds the wealth and possessions that her employer has to be a source of great envy for her. The short story is full of references to how Mrs. Allen imagines that her children would be different from Mrs. Lacey's children if she had them:
My children wouldn't have turned out like that, Mrs. Allen thought to herself.
It is only at the end of the short story, when an angry Mr. Lacey turns up and insists that Mrs. Allen stops using Mrs. Lacey to babysit for the children, that Mrs. Allen realises how Mrs. Lacey has used her as cover in order to carry on an affair. The blush that she covers herself with at the end of this story seems to be a symbol of a number of different things, but most interestingly, perhaps it is the way that Mrs. Lacey's act represents a rebellion that Mrs. Allen would never have been able to contemplate, let alone engage in. The blush therefore could represent a realisation of Mrs. Allen's own thoughts and desires which she finds unwittingly kindled through Mrs. Lacey's own infidelity.