Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The voice of the first-person narrator plays an essential role in conveying the meaning of this story. This unnamed denizen of Thomasville is perhaps a more insightful person than he might have been thanks to Miss Leonora’s influence. In the narrator’s genteel southern style, one notices Miss Leonora’s solid grounding in English and Latin in his use of future perfect tenses and the subjunctive mood. He displays wit in his description of the recalcitrant Logans, who fended off progress and the railroad in the nineteenth century. The narrator is, however, a product of the town and can understand both the city fathers and Miss Leonora. This delicate balance is one of Peter Taylor’s best stylistic achievements. The reader is alternately directed toward sympathy with Miss Leonora and understanding of the town’s point of view throughout the story. One must draw one’s own conclusion about the justice of the matter, although Miss Leonora seems to have the edge. In the end, Miss Leonora has more than an edge and the town’s reasoning is seen as specious but fallacious, as well as uncharitable. Taylor, the puppeteer of the story, engineers these shifting reactions.

Verisimilitude is also an important stylistic feature of the story. Thomasville is typical of a sleepy southern town of the 1950’s; it complacently enjoys its present, while harboring grudges dating from the nineteenth century and worrying about the coming of integration. Although the...

(The entire section is 525 words.)