Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The language in this work is simple, direct, and precise, a blend of the local idiom, incorrect English, and formal English. In addition to mirroring the speech patterns of the region, the language reflects the temperament, the unfolding sensitivity of the women, and the social class of each character. The conversation is the vehicle for unraveling the personalities and for bringing together parts of the narrative, for unifying the story.

The major pattern in the story is the movement from summary to dialogue and back to summary. After providing information about the setting and the reason for the two women being together, the narrator focuses on the social status and the personalities of Mrs. Crowe and Sarah Ann Binson. The exposition provides a natural introduction to the conversation.

Another major pattern is the use of contrasts, personalities, social status, language, values, and attitudes. Silence is juxtaposed to the noisy brook and the whistling wind. The three provide a contrast with the conversation of the women. Temperance Dent’s life and goodness serve as a backdrop for the conversation and any changes these women may make. The relationship between Mrs. Crowe and Sarah at the beginning of the work and that which they appear to have at the conclusion are different.