The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor Analysis

Deborah Eisenberg

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Deborah Eisenberg tells her story from an omniscient point of view but with everything perceived through Francie’s sensibility, and she reverses narrative time as Francie looks back on events in her life. These are common, unremarkable techniques, but in her many arresting turns of phrase, more poetry than prose, Eisenberg exhibits real originality. For example, in Francie’s initial interview, Mrs. Peck is “gluttonous” for Francie’s test scores. When Francie sees the secretary, Cynthia, approaching outdoors, she seems oddly out of context, “as if something were leaking somewhere,” and her fellow passengers on the bus seem “like a committee assigned to the bus aeons earlier to puzzle out just this sort of thing—part of a rotating team whose members were picked up and dropped off at stations looping the planet.”

The night before she leaves for Albany on the bus, Francie talks “feverishly” with Jessica about the terrifying contingencies of existence (the mysterious crashing blimp becomes a prime example), and when Jessica asserts that “Anything can just happen,” Francie answers, “It’s much, much worse.” At this response, “Jessica had burst into noisy sobs, as if she knew exactly what Francie meant, as if it were she who had brushed against the burning cable of her life.” This vivid metaphor lights up the theme of a young woman’s struggle to make sense of her life, a struggle in which “no one had ever said one little thing that would get her through any five given minutes of her life.”