Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Taylor’s two outstanding techniques are her superb sense of irony and the subtle open-endedness of “The Blush.” The story shows how each woman has exactly that which the other only dreams of having. Nevertheless, in a bitter joke, neither of the two women treasures what she has. Mrs. Lacey resents her children and her pregnancies, and Mrs. Allen fails to see much comfort in her material well-being.

By telling the short story exclusively from the point of view of Mrs. Allen, the final shock leading to her blush catches the reader as unaware as herself. Ironically, Mrs. Lacey has invented a life for her employer that, with a certain cruelty, completely contradicts the reality of Mrs. Allen’s true, lonely life. She is too well-bred to march off into a pub of her own and cannot imagine using her money to pleasure herself.

Given the vividness of Mrs. Lacey’s imagination, the story ends on a final, open note. Mr. Lacey is as convinced that Mr. Allen drives home Mrs. Lacey after work at night as he is of the other aspects of his wife’s tall tale. Yet the reader never learns the true identity of Mrs. Lacey’s lover or lovers, who may or may not be the biological father of her fourth child. This final uncertainty of the short story, coming on top of Mrs. Allen’s sudden realization that she has completely misunderstood Mrs. Lacey, cleverly helps driving the blush in Mrs. Allen’s astonished face.