Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

The Fire-Dwellers is Stacey MacAindra’s intensely personal account of one summer. Through Stacey’s inner monologues, observations, and conversations, her outer life as respectable and invisible wife and mother of four and her inner life as troubled skeptic are revealed. Fragments of her thoughts and glimpses of her domestic responsibilities are revealed; her discontent with her body, her marriage, and her role in society is unmistakable. Stacey’s memories of a repressed childhood, her escape to the West Coast, her romance with and marriage to Mac, and her fears for her children are layered throughout.

Though Stacey deeply loves her children and values their uniqueness, she sometimes longs to escape them; she tries to find what her husband is thinking and feeling, yet he pushes her away. In the early chapters she makes brief journeys to the seaside and into her sometimes disturbing, sometimes comic thoughts. During one of her many lapses into daydreaming, Mac announces that he has a new job: selling Richalife, a vitamin supplement, to drugstores. Mac’s boss, Thor Thorlarkson, is a self-made man who takes an immediate dislike to Stacey. Mac is determined to succeed, and Stacey is left increasingly alone. She frantically senses that she is not what she appears to be, and she fantasizes escapes in the middle of mundane conversations with neighbors and Polyglam parties.

At an unbearable Richalife party, Stacey sees Mac talking to a young woman. Stacey then drinks too much, tells Thor an insulting joke, and has a fight with Mac. Though Mac has told her not to, she goes to a Richalife rally. There she sees Mac with Delores Appleton, the woman from...

(The entire section is 687 words.)