Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The major stylistic device used by Ellen Glasgow is the symbolism of autumn rain and falling leaves, which take on different nuances throughout the story. They appear prominently at both beginning and end, enclosing the action in an allusive arch of tone and feeling.

At the outset, the leaves are tied into the annual cycle of year: Their falling signifies the necessity of passing, of the old giving way to the new. Thus autumn reminds Margaret that she too is aging, but she accepts it as the price of her memories and values. This time; however, the fall seems final: Her hopes of continuing happiness have been destroyed.

The image of the leaves recurs at critical points throughout. Margaret’s beauty is passing like the leaves; her spirit has been stricken like the leaves and is driven by the storm. She is pale of complexion, colorless like the fallen leaves; Rose has the blazing glow of youth. Margaret remembers her engagement in a rose garden; now the petals and leaves of that garden are nothing but withered ashes. Her universe is dying down.

The flame of love in Rose’s eyes is likened to the blaze of color in burning leaves. However, her neglected villa is surrounded with heaps of rotting leaves, like grave mounds; George derides her dream that he and Rose had reached a “secret garden of romance” in which he became the “perfect lover.” Both women’s hopes and fantasies are stricken like leaves before George’s selfish brutality. In the end, they have only the leaves.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Bohemians in Greenwich Village
Shortly after 1900, artists, writers, actors, and political thinkers from all over the United...

(The entire section is 639 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Point of View
The story is told from a third-person, limited point of view. This means that readers see and hear only what one...

(The entire section is 896 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1920s: In 1925, 175,000 divorces take place— 1.5 per 1,000 total population. Obtaining a divorce when both parties do not agree to...

(The entire section is 587 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

Conduct research to find out more about women’s roles in the early-20th century. Use this information to more thoroughly compare and...

(The entire section is 128 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

Glasgow’s autobiography, The Woman Within, published in 1954, presents an intimate portrait of the writer and recounts the...

(The entire section is 196 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Auchincloss, Louis. Pioneers and Caretakers, A Study of Nine American Women Novelists, Minneapolis: University of...

(The entire section is 305 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Godbold, E. Stanly, Jr. Ellen Glasgow and the Woman Within. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972.

Goodman, Susan. Ellen Glasgow. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

McDowell, Frederick P. W. Ellen Glasgow and the Ironic Art of Fiction. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1960.

Matthews, Pamela R. Ellen Glasgow and a Woman’s Traditions. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994.

The Mississippi Quarterly 49 (Spring, 1996).

Rouse, Blair. Ellen Glasgow. New York: Twayne, 1962.

Scura, Dorothy M., ed. Ellen Glasgow: New Perspectives. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995.

Taylor, Welford Dunaway, and George C. Longest, eds. Regarding Ellen Glasgow: Essays for Contemporary Readers. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2001.

Wagner, Linda W. Ellen Glasgow: Beyond Convention. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982.