Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Morris mixes whimsical and poetic fictional styles to reflect the alternately matter-of-fact and bewildered points of view of his characters. Appropriately for a dreamlike story, “Glimpse into Another Country” uses water imagery for poetic effect; Hazlitt observes events as if they were beyond the limitations of normal time and space, as if they were happening underwater.

The most significant use of water imagery occurs in the museum scenes. Hazlitt expects to encounter water at the Fountain Court; instead, he finds a pool in the rest room. When the boys fight over the pearls, “They thrashed about violently at Hazlitt’s feet like one writhing, many-limbed monster.” It is as if he has returned the pearls to the sea, where they belong. When he leaves the museum in the rain, he sees Mrs. Thayer’s face “only dimly through the rain-streaked window” of the bus. Their relationship, as always, is out of focus, as in a dream, as if underwater: “What appeared to be tears might have been drops of water.”

Sensory imagery is used to reinforce Hazlitt’s sensitivity, because of his awareness of mortality, to the nuances of everything around him. Hazlitt is particularly alert to sounds. When he calls his wife, he asks if she can hear the car horns in the street below his hotel window, and he imagines the sights and sounds of their kitchen: “Hazlitt knew so exactly just how it all was that he could hear the sound of the wall clock—stuffed with a towel to mute the ticking.” After visiting the specialist, freed of anxiety about the approaching muting of his own ticking, he walks through the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel “for the pleasure of its carpet and the creak of expensive Texas luggage”—yet more assurance, the sound of life.


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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