(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Trick or Treat” is a story of mutual seduction, told in the third-person through the minds of two characters. The action is what one would expect in an ordinary love story. It begins with the recognition of desire, proceeds through the uncertainties of courtship, and ends with the relationship about to be consummated. What makes the story unusual is that the two people involved are a respectable housewife and a twelve-year-old boy.

The story is set in a small town in the American South. It is fall, a few weeks before Halloween. Mrs. Hollingsworth is walking to the grocery store, thinking about the South and talking to herself. Her monologue is interrupted by a boy in one of the yards she is passing. A brief conversation follows, ending with his suggesting that she is crazy. She replies by suggesting to the boy that he grow up.

After Mrs. Hollingsworth moves on, the boy is furious with himself. For weeks he has been watching her and lusting after her, and now he fears he has insulted her. However, he does not give up hope. A few days later, he appears at Mrs. Hollingsworth’s home with a lawnmower, asking for a job cutting her grass. Even though the grass does not need mowing, she agrees. After he finishes, she serves him lemonade in the backyard. However, when a police officer turns up, she finds that the boy has disappeared. It seems that the lawnmower had been reported stolen.

An hour later, the boy telephones Mrs. Hollingsworth to tell her that he will have his lemonade some other time. He addresses her as...

(The entire section is 634 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

“Trick or Treat” takes place in the southern United States. It begins with Mrs. Hollingsworth walking to the grocery store dressed in...

(The entire section is 987 words.)