(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Third and Final Continent” is the story of how a young immigrant adjusts to his new home and new bride. The heroine of the work is an eccentric, elderly widow, who manages to help the young man feel less lonely. She shows him qualities in his wife that he had not noticed and provides him with a model for his future life.

The narrator’s account starts with his departure from his native India and continues with a summary of his five-year stay in London. After obtaining a job at a library at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he returns to Calcutta, marries, then flies to the United States, leaving his bride behind, with the understanding that she will join him six weeks later. In the meantime, he intends to stay in a room at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. However, when he happens across an advertisement for a room in a much quieter area, he decides to look it over and ends up renting it.

At first, he is puzzled by the eccentric behavior of Mrs. Croft, his elderly, widowed landlady. Every evening, she announces that there is an American flag on the moon, pronounces the fact “splendid,” and insists that her roomer repeat the word loudly enough so that she can hear it. This becomes a ritual. So does his presenting his rent envelope personally, rather than leaving it on a ledge. To his amazement, this considerate act elicits an expression of gratitude from the crotchety old woman....

(The entire section is 568 words.)