Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Trevor is a modern master of the realistic story whose narrative style is so smooth and understated that it rarely calls attention to itself. However, here, as in his other stories, that understatement is tied to an unreliable first-person narrator, and readers do not notice until late in the story just how much she has been hiding. The other notable feature is Cynthia’s framed narrative, which veers away from quiet realism toward the mythic and the incantatory as she invokes Irish history and legend to indict herself and her friends for their lack of sympathy and understanding. Her nightmarish poetic style brings out the hostility in the more earthbound Milly, who attempts to see the embedded narrative as the ravings of a madwoman, and as a usurpation of her rightful place as the one who controls the story. However, Milly is fighting a losing battle: Her realism has masked a fantasy, just as Cynthia’s fantastic narrative has unveiled a clearer version of reality. An act of imagination is required to arrive at truth, just as an awareness of violence is required to attain any hope of peace.


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Sources for Further Study

Encounter. LVIII, January, 1982, p. 49.

Library Journal. CVI, December 15, 1981, p. 2408.

The New Republic. CLXXXVI, February 22, 1982, p. 39.

The New York Times Book Review. LXXVII, February 21, 1982, p. 7.

Newsweek. XCIX, February 22, 1982, p. 74.

Saturday Review. IX, February, 1982, p. 59.

Times Literary Supplement. October 16, 1981, p. 1193.