(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

This story begins with a description of the house in which Dorothy and Joe Grannis live—the breakfast nook, the gingham curtains, and the painted tabletop where Joe sits reading his morning paper. Dorothy opens a letter from a couple she has invited to visit. The woman has written to say that she and her husband cannot accept the invitation. Dorothy is angry, but Joe—who has expected this response—feigns surprise. He tries to encourage his wife by suggesting that the couple may be able to come another time, but Dorothy sees through the woman’s excuse. She knows that the couple do not want to socialize with them.

As the dialogue proceeds, it becomes clear that this is Joe’s second marriage. The friends of his marriage have not carried over to his new marriage. He and Dorothy have few friends of their own. Dorothy quit her office job when she married and now has little contact with people. She has not kept in touch with the women with whom she formerly worked. There appears to be only one couple with whom the Grannises socialize, and Dorothy, humiliated that this couple have begun to suspect that she and her husband have no other friends, rejects Joe’s suggestion that she invite them over in place of the couple who have just rejected their invitation.

All of this makes for a lonely and uninspiring life for Dorothy. After Joe leaves the house, slamming the front door behind him, Dorothy washes the breakfast dishes, then walks into the...

(The entire section is 588 words.)