Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

One of the most notable aspects of Morris’s approach to fiction is his objective tone. He is more amused than angered by what Bundy encounters on his shopping trips. Morris is more concerned with reporting changes in American society than in mourning the loss of anything, realizing that hindsight makes the past seem better than it was. He always avoids sentimentality as well, choosing to shift the focus at the end of the story from Bundy’s response to Victrola’s death to something comic: An elderly woman who always keeps the shopping cart to ferry home her purchase of two frozen dinners this time allows a police officer, arriving to investigate the dog’s demise, to escort her across the street.

Much of the humor in “Victrola” is derived from Bundy’s inability to control the dog as much as he wants. Victrola sits off to one side “so that the short-haired pelt on one rump was always soiled. When Bundy attempted to clean it, as he once did, the spot no longer matched the rest of the dog, like a clean spot on an old rug.” Morris reveals the characters of both of his protagonists through humor: “Without exception, the dog did not like anything he saw advertised on television. To that extent he was smarter than Bundy, who was partial to anything served with gravy.” Such blending of detail, character, and humor is what makes Morris such a distinctive artist as a short-story writer.


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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Crump, G. B. The Novels of Wright Morris: A Critical Interpretation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978.

Howard, Leon. Wright Morris. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1968.

Knoll, Robert E., ed. Conversations with Wright Morris: Critical Views and Responses. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977.

Madden, David. Wright Morris. New York: Twayne, 1964.

Rice, Rodney. “Photographing the Ruins: Wright Morris and Midwestern Gothic.” MidAmerica 25 (1998): 128-154.

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Trachtenberg, Alan, and Ralph Liebermann. Distinctly American: The Photography of Wright Morris. London: Merrell, 2002.

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