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Verona Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Verona” takes place in the Italian city of Verona and depicts the narrator’s memories of a time in her childhood when her mother and father took her there as part of a European tour. Although the narrator recalls the period as one of happiness, she also describes this happiness as including components of cruelty and crime. As she describes the various incidents from her brief time in Verona, her evocations of exquisite happiness are invariably accompanied by details that suggest its opposite. For instance, the young girl is overwhelmed by her parents’ massive shopping sprees and a succession of strange cities and hotel rooms, and her sense of excitement shades into pain and anxiety. Similarly, although the narrator recalls it was her father who set the tone of endless magical abundance and happiness, she adds a disturbing element to her memories with a subsequent description of this holiday spree as a manipulative game that her father was playing for his own mysterious purposes.

All through their travels, she remembers that her innocent and youthful beauty as a child made her the object of much affection. This seems to be particularly the case in Verona when she is taken to a piazza to feed the pigeons. Her father gives her newspaper cones filled with grain, causing dozens of pigeons to light on her arms and head and to feed from her hand. However, as the birds continue to sit on her arms and shoulders and feed on the grain she is giving them, her enjoyment begins to attenuate. She suddenly senses that her mother, jealous of her father’s beneficence, is a powerful and even dangerous force to be reckoned with. Furthermore, as her father continues to pour grain on her hands, head, and shoulders to attract the birds, she feels something that oscillates between joy and nausea, and her laughter heightens into hysteria. At this point, she seems to lose complete touch with her ordinary self and feels she has been transformed by her own laughter into a brilliant, fantastic angel or bird-child. Later, she cannot stop remembering the pigeons or the special attention her father gave her, attention that she worries he does not visit on her mother.


(The entire section is 558 words.)