Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Taylor’s writing style is straightforward and unembellished. His great strength is his perfect ear for southern dialogue and narration and his acute knowledge of the mores of affluent twentieth century southerners. The voice of his narrator might be that of one of Franny and Miles’s wedding guests. The narrator is a careful observer and shows considerable insight into the meaning of the tale at its end, but he is of Miles’s set and knows their folkways firsthand.

As a writer of manners, Taylor depicts social differences well. Franny is a well-reared southern lady who treats the country club maid Bernice with a proper combination of artless condescension and easy affection. She is gracious to the prostitute at the end of the story. Men of lower social station than hers, however, make her nervous: The bellboys and elevator operator convey a disquieting sexuality in their joking, undeferential manner, while the possibility of meeting the assistant hotel manager Carlisle makes her anxious before she sees him with a sheet over his head. Clearly the coarseness and sexuality of men below her station challenge the perfectly arranged world in which Franny has been reared and expects to live.

Miles loves Franny for her naïveté and instinctive good manners and overlooks her unkind mimicry of the bellboys; he fails to see a steel will in his pretty young bride. In many ways, Miles acts as a foil for Franny and her world. He knows and accepts the...

(The entire section is 471 words.)