Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Because the generic type of this story is ironic fable, its basic technique is ironic reversal and poetic justice. Indeed, its plot is a carefully controlled narrative about the two women who give the man a taste of his own medicine. The story’s parable nature is also suggested by its being told completely in present tense, a point of view that conveys the sense of an illustrative picture. The point of view suggests the working out of a sequence of events to support a premise. For example, the story begins, “He is waiting at the airline counter when he first notices the young woman.” The illustrative nature of the story is further emphasized in the chase scene, which the narrator says is like a scene in a motion picture, for as he chases her, the bystanders go scattering and she zigzags to avoid a collision. The scene also resembles a film in that present tense is the basic time frame of all film. The man is not telling about a remembered event from which he has learned something, nor is some disinterested party who witnessed the scene recounting it in a narrative. Rather, the point of view suggests something taking place before the reader’s eyes as a purely illustrative incident. That the story is like a film or lurid little drama for the tabloids is also suggested by the man’s thinking how the newspapers will refer to the woman as an “Ebony-Tressed Thief” and by his feeling pleased with himself by his use of the word “lifted” instead of...

(The entire section is 589 words.)