Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

With its voodoo overtones and macabre O. Henry ending, “The Rainy Moon” is a tale told primarily for impact. Delia’s convocations, her “need” to handle pointed things (suggesting that she is either mentally or actually gouging her husband’s likeness), and the transfixed man in the street escalate the reader’s suspense. Although in the story the symbolic nature of the rainy moon is uncertain (the author sees it as a good sign; Delia labels it bad), Colette explains elsewhere that she meant the ephemeral image to suggest the iridescent halo around the moon foretelling foul weather. Despite all these ill tidings, the conclusion is still surprising. Perhaps the reader, like the narrator, makes the mistake of deciding too quickly what is possible and what is not.

However, the bizarre finale should not overshadow the original weird coincidence. Not only does the author return unknowingly to her old apartment, but there she finds a seeming time twin: a young woman deserted by her man, taking refuge in her bed, and even wearing the same type of tasseled slippers that the author used to wear. Is this not a coincidence as disturbing as the “coincidence” that Delia convokes her husband and her husband dies? Colette’s point is not that voodoo works or that there are supernatural forces in play because an author once lived in her typist’s apartment, but rather that no one really knows what exists beneath the veneer of a “coincidence.” There may be other powers at work, or there may not be. It might be unwise to discount any possibility.