Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

It has been noted that Sayles’s work, both as filmmaker and writer, is remarkable for creating community as character. This work is a clear example. It is a story that places its characters on particularly common ground. The totemic sense of territory is remarkably like that of a school bus. One may come to know Lourdes most closely in her role as narrator, but she is no more or less changed by the story’s turns of event than anyone else. Even Lee and Delphine are little changed by the resonance of their husbands’ fight. They are simply shaken momentarily by the realization of a possibility they knew existed all along.

Mrs. Tucker’s apparent stroke is the catalyst for thawing the chill that arises between Lee and Delphine. They must work together as nurses to keep the older woman alive until the ambulance arrives, a reminder of their striking similarities. It is also a reminder to all that any one of them could easily find herself alone in thirty years, having a stroke in a remote eatery, hanging on to a marriage that has long since ceased to be a marriage.

Because it is Delphine who breaks the silence, tentatively urging Lee to continue the story she had been telling earlier about her honeymoon, their prior tension is eased more effectively for her husband’s having been the injured party. It is as if losing her closest traveling companion could only make the news of her husband’s injury that much more difficult.


(The entire section is 440 words.)