(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Maria Quitera is a housewife on the edge. She is looking for her place in the world; not finding it, she is searching for someone to blame. The story begins on a Thursday afternoon just before her husband returns from work. Maria is in a tipsy mood, acting childish and as if she is drunk. She is talking and singing to herself, brushing her hair, admiring herself in the mirror, flitting from one mood and subject to another. Her children are away, and her husband is soon to be out of town on business. She prepares herself by sleeping.

The story falls loosely into two sections: the first being Maria’s “day off,” and the second, the Saturday night dinner. On her day off, when her children are away and her husband is to spend the day in the city on business, Maria fleetingly feels the freedom and consequent fear of not having a particular role to play for the day. When her husband comes in to kiss her farewell, she realizes that she does not even know what he has had for breakfast—the preparation of which is doubtless one of her daily rituals. She realizes that she need not get his meals nor check his suit for lint. However, if not these things, what then should she do? Her answer is to snap at her husband and spend the next thirty-six hours or so in a dizzying, whirling sleep, effectively avoiding the self-defining task of asserting her will on the day. When Maria finally does get up late on Saturday morning, she is clearly happy to find the everyday routine restored as she goes about her chores and errands.

The Saturday night at the fancy restaurant, where Maria...

(The entire section is 652 words.)