(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Mary, the thirty-year-old narrator, has moved back to her hometown in Kentucky after being away at college for several years. She has returned to Kentucky to care for her parents; after they retire to Florida, she and her husband, Stephen, move into their old farmhouse. Mary loves the land and the stately old farmhouse that “rises up from the fields like a patch of mutant jimsonweeds.” Because her mother cannot bear to think of moving her things out of the house herself, she has left Mary in charge of selling the house and their belongings.

When Stephen moves to Louisville to take another job, Mary stays in the farmhouse to prepare for the sale of the property, agreeing to join him after the house is sold. Now Mary realizes that she does not want to leave; also, she has taken a lover. After a routine visit to the dentist’s office, she has started seeing the dentist, Larry, a man with whom she went to school. Larry had been wild in high school, but he married, settled down in his hometown, and continued to live there after his divorce. Like Mary, he loves this part of Kentucky and has no desire to move.

One afternoon, Stephen calls to inform Mary that he has found a house in Louisville and wants her to join him there. Although he is eager to buy the house, Mary hesitates to make the commitment. She reminds Stephen that her father, who always warned her to avoid debt, is paying cash for his condominium in Florida. Stephen tells her that...

(The entire section is 577 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Residents and Transients’’ is set in western Kentucky. The protagonist, Mary, narrates the story in her own voice. She announces in...

(The entire section is 523 words.)