(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Stucco House,” told mostly from a young boy’s perspective, is a glimpse into a failing marriage with one parent abdicating her role as a mother and the other realizing that he prefers his young stepson to his wife.

As the story opens, Teddy, asleep with his stuffed animals, is awakened at daybreak by his stepfather, Eric, who wants Teddy to go with him to find Rhoda, who did not come home the previous night. They locate her on the staircase of a duplex, unconscious, wearing nothing but pantyhose. The father suspects alcohol and an affair but tells Teddy that she fell down the stairs. Young though he is, Teddy recognizes that his mother is drunk.

After his stepfather brings his mother back to their upscale New Orleans home, Teddy watches over her. She awakens and irrationally confides in him that Eric tried to kill her and that he must inform his grandparents. Although he silently dismisses the accusation and expresses concern to himself about her sanity, he, later, does as instructed. Thinking of Teddy’s welfare, Eric has the gardener, who obviously cares for the boy, drive Teddy to his grandparents’ house in Mandeville. Anticipating the boy’s visit, his grandfather readies the horses and searches for the archery equipment, and his grandmother bakes a caramel cake. Even so, Teddy would prefer to remain with Eric.

In one of the few scenes not narrated from Teddy’s point of view, Eric goes into Rhoda’s room,...

(The entire section is 441 words.)