(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Ugliest House in the World” is told from the perspective of a first-person narrator named Dr. Williams. The narrative is in the present tense, but much of the text consists of flashbacks and background material that provide context for the present-tense action.

The narrator, a young doctor in London working to pay back his student loans, describes his work environment in a geriatric ward and some of the slang vocabulary used by him and his colleagues. Although a native of London, he is of Welsh descent and, therefore, considered a Welshman by his English colleagues and teased for it at every opportunity. The teasing is done with generally good nature and accepted in kind.

The narrator does have one connection to Wales. His father, who has been laid off after thirty-five years with the same company in London, has returned to his childhood home, a small village in Wales, where he has spent his entire severance on a small cottage on a stream where he fished in his boyhood. The narrator, concerned about arson-prone Welsh nationalists who are resentful of outsiders and feeling that his father has wasted his severance, is unhappy about the move. However, he does make regular visits to check up on his father. He brings groceries when he visits and offers repeatedly to whitewash the house, having gone so far as to buy paint, but his father always refuses his offer. Although the previous owners had renovated the interior of the cottage, the grounds and fences around are in disrepair.

The father’s neighbors are Arwyn Watkins; Kate, his daughter who returned home...

(The entire section is 653 words.)