Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Images of mud, frost, and snow, of stony and sodden fields, foreshadow and symbolize the condition of the Brays; the indifference of the town to its aged and disabled; and the callousness and greed of Mrs. Janes, with whom the Brays live. These images, along with those images of isolation and decay, parallel the aging, the isolation, and the dependence of the Brays. In turn, each symbolizes the decay of the New England region.

A pattern of contrasts between characters—Mrs. Trimble and Miss Wright, Ann and Mandana—between the two sets of women, is an important part of the story’s style and structure. Moreover, the speech patterns are correlated with the class and condition of each character; the Brays, who are the poorest, use speech that is the most regional and most obviously different from the speech of the other characters.