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Amanda Summary

The narrator of "Amanda" watches the titular character, a seamstress, make beautiful creations. She's so intimidated by the woman's talent that she can barely speak to her. Instead, she just watches her and is happy when Amanda asks her whether she likes what she's made. Amanda talks to her about her clients, tells her gossip, and shares other information with her. However, the narrator believes Amanda is indifferent to her, and this makes her even less inclined to speak.

The narrator considers Amanda to be the height of beauty and talent; she works long days and her services are in high demand. She's so trusted that people leave the final design of their wedding dresses to Amanda's discretion. However, many people also believe she is a witch. They think she hides little figurines and uses herbs to enchant others. For this reason, people are often concerned about taking food or drink she makes.

Another reason that people think Amanda is a witch is her friendship with Soledad and Librada. They're both old, toothless women who are known to be witches. One day—after Librada leaves the narrator's house, having delivering a message from Amanda for her mother—the narrator touches a slimy residue left behind and her mother believes it's witchcraft. Amanda shrugs it off and asks why she's blaming Librada for what happened.

One day, the narrator asks Amanda to make her a beautiful outfit like something a witch would give to a favored daughter. The narrator has come up with a dramatic and eerie outfit. Amanda says that she's busy but that, when she has time, she'll work on it. A lot of time passes, and one day, Amanda asks her to come to visit.

When the narrator arrives, Amanda presents her with a beautiful black cape with a neck lined with cat fur. There are black chicken feathers that frame the girl's face, and it is adorned with translucent red beads; tiny bones from birds that Amanda's cat has killed brush her cheeks.

The narrator loves the outfit but her mother hates it. The second time her mother sees her in it—as the narrator sits outside during a magical night—she takes it. The girl grows up and doesn't see the cape for a long time. She finds it one day while opening old boxes and remembers the love and care Amanda put into it.

Years later, she loses the cape in a move. It's a very difficult thing for her. The cape was physical proof that someone loved her enough to make her something handmade and magical. She thinks of the joint birthdays that she, Amanda, and her father used to have and thinks that, one day soon, she'll go through more boxes to see if she can find memories of those days.

Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The narrator recalls moments as a five-or six-year-old girl when she would spend her days watching Amanda work at her sewing machine, transforming cloth into fantastic dresses, and spend her nights thinking about Amanda’s creations until she fell asleep. Amanda was her connection to the world of creation, as well as a link to the larger social world that Amanda relayed to her through provocative gossip about the men and women she knew in South Texas.

The narrator is not completely comfortable, however, in Amanda’s presence. Although she can speak freely with other people, with Amanda she is rendered almost speechless because she is sure that Amanda is indifferent to her.

The narrator has other apprehensions about Amanda. It is rumored around town that Amanda and her friends Librada and Soledad are associated with magic. Although no one considers Amanda a real enchantress, her special powers make the children, at least, believe that she has little figurines that are exact replicas of everyone who had ever crossed her.

When Librada visits the narrator’s house, she leaves behind a slimy substance in which the narrator puts her arm. The...

(The entire section is 1,003 words.)