Mrs. Ripley's Trip Summary
by Hamlin Garland

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Mrs. Ripley's Trip Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

On a stormy November evening in their Iowa farmhouse, Jane Ripley announces to her husband that he and their grandson Tukey will have to get along without her for a while because she is planning a Thanksgiving trip to New York state to visit family and friends whom she has not seen in twenty-three years. Since her marriage, she alleges, she has never had so much as a day to herself. When the surprised Ethan Ripley expresses his doubts as to their ability to finance such a long journey, she assures him that he will not have to pay, in the process ruffling his feathers by implying that she never would have expected him to. He, sensitive to criticism of his ability to provide for the family, responds angrily, and the two argue.

It is apparent that despite the wrangling, there exists a profound bond between the two, and, the next day, as she bustles around planning her getaway, Ethan, working in the field, decides that he will sell one of his pigs to provide the funds for her trip. That evening, after he sells the pig, Tukey worries that his grandmother is “mad” at them and may never come back. As she tries to explain her motive to the young boy, she begins to cry. Ethan then comes in with a load of wood and confesses that he and Tukey have been guilty of not adequately considering her feelings. He thereupon hands her a railroad ticket and ten dollars, causing her to retreat from the room, only to return shortly carrying a mitten full of the coins she has been saving for years to make the trip possible. She reluctantly accepts the ticket, however, when he informs her that it is not possible to get his money back.

The following day as Ethan drives Jane to the railroad station in their wagon, she informs Tukey and him of the provisions she has made for their welfare while she is gone, including some services from a neighboring woman. On their return home, they realize that she kissed neither of them good-bye. Ethan theorizes that she, “flustrated,” has forgotten.

Without any transition, the final scene has her returning home, laden with parcels and greeting her grandson with hugs, kisses, and tears. When Ethan comes in from the barn, they merely acknowledge each other laconically. Although neither expresses any emotion, it is apparent that both are satisfied that she has accomplished her trip and is now ready to resume the usual household routine.