How Far She Went by Mary Hood and Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield
Length: 1591 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)
Synopsis 1. One of the more interesting literary selections in Perrine's Story and Structure was " How far she went" by Mary Hood.
The setting in this story takes place in a rural american town. There is the girl, who's name is never revealed and the Grandma, who's name is never revealed as well. The girl is kept at her grandma's house against her will. Her father sent her out to her Grandma's not telling her that she would be staying for good. The Grandma is very critical of everything the girl does. She doesn't approve of any aspect of the girls character. The girl feels the same way about her Grandma. Neither two of the characters get along.
After an argument the girl runs off, disappointed with her surrounding circumstances. The Grandma continues to do her chores up the street of their large property when two bikers roared up with the girl clinching to the back of one of them.
After an argument the girl was forced back home with her grandma.
Later on as they were driving the two motorcyclists tormented their vehicle throwing bottles and shooting their guns. Eventually they crashed their car and had to run to the woods and hide out from the rowdy boys. They chose to hide under a dock. The dog would not be quiet so the Grandma had to drown him. The boys never found the girl and Grandma. The frightening experience strengthened the bond between the Grandma and girl ( Hood 121- 129).
Synopsis 2. One of the more interesting literary selections in Perrine's Story and Structure was " Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield.
In this story the interpretation of Miss Brill's character is revealed through her observation of other people. The story starts out as Miss Brill with Miss Brill describing the sensation of her fur coat upon her skin and how it made her feel. The setting takes place on a bustling Sunday afternoon in the center of a town. Miss Brill has made it a routine for her to go out on these Sunday afternoons dressed up at her finest, and go people watching.
She takes a seat where a live band is playing, and next to her is the same old couple who always sits their every Sunday, and never says a word.
This is the point in the story when Miss Brill first shows her characteristics to be critical of others. She notes other peoples horrendous attire, admires frolicking children, and critiques the bands performance.
In the mist of all this observation, the irony begins to form. While Miss Brill is judging others, calling them old and snickering at their hats, she never realizes that she is one of those old badly dressed people. This is realized when a young couple sits in the chairs that the old people were previously sitting in. The young couple makes remarks about Miss Brill's fur coat and how she is always their by herself every Sunday. When Miss Brill walks home she ponders on her observations of other people and how other people observe her as well. When she gets home, she puts her fur coat away in its box, and thinks she heard the coat talk, which has a symbolic reason pertaining to the story ( Mansfield 117-121).
Critique. It is my opinion that the story Miss Brill is a very well written story. It is descriptive and develops Miss Brill's character and personality in a unique method. Through her observations of other people in the story, the reader can in turn make observations about Miss Brill based on her thoughts.
Miss Brill likes to esedrop on others as the author states in writing,
Only two people shared her special seat: a fine old man in a velvet coat, his
hands clasped over a huge carved walking- stick, and big old woman, sitting
Upright , with a roll of knitting on her embroidered apron. They did not speak.
This was disappointing, for Miss Brill always looked forward to the conversation.
She had become really quite expert, she thought, at listening as though she didn't
Listen, at sitting in other people's lives just for a minute while they talked round
Her ( Mansfield 118).
Here it is implied that Miss Brill leads her life through others, never fully understanding her flaws as well. Later in the story she prepares to listen to an in love couple, " Just at that moment a boy and girl came and sat down where the old couple had been. They were beautifully dressed; they were in love. The hero and heroine, of coarse, just arrived from his father's yacht. And still soundlessly singing, still with that trembling smile, Miss Brill prepared to listen" ( Mansfield 120).
In the couples conversation they critique Miss Brill and her fur coat. This possibly makes Miss Brill rethink her life. This story is a good character developer.
It is my personal opinion that the short story " How far she went," is a well written story that develops characters through mutual struggles which in turn reinforces the bond between the previous enemies.
The hatred between the girl an Grandma can be best described in the introduction of the story which states,
They had quarreled all morning, squalled all summer about the incidentals: how
Tight the girls cut- off jeans were, the " Every Inch a woman" T-shirt, her choice of
Music and how she played it, her practiced inattention, her sullen look. Her Granny
Wrung out the last boiled dishcloth, pinched it to the line, giving the basin a sling
And a slap, the water flying out in a scalding arc onto the Queen Anne's lace by the
Path , never mind if it bloomed, that didn't make it worth anything except to
Chiggers, but the girl would cut it by the everlasting armload and cherish it in the
Churn, going to that much trouble for a weed but not bending once- unbegged- to
Pick the nearest bean; she was sulking now. Bored. Displaced ( Hood 121-122).
Here it points out the unstable relationship between the girl and Grandma. It also shows the girls character through her playfulness. Their bond is reinforced in the conclusion of the story as the author states, " The girl walked close behind her, exactly were she walked, matching her pace, matching her stride, close enough to put her hand forth ( if the need arose) and tough her Granny's back where the faded voile was clinging damp, the merest gauze between their wounds" ( Hood 128).
This story has good structural character development.
Personal Reaction. Both of these stories are well written. The authors both take interesting approaches towards character development. Personally, I prefer the short story " Miss Brill" over " How Far She Went." My reason for this is simply my taste in subjects.
I can not relate to " How Far She Went," because I have never lived in a small country town in the middle of nowhere with a bitter grandma and nothing to do. Nor would I ever want to be put in that situation, therefore I take minimal interest in the story.
The fact that two guys would terrorize the Grandma and girl for almost nothing is unrealistic. I think these males would need a better reason to commit murder.
While I didn't enjoy " How Far She Went" I did enjoy the short story " Miss Brill." This story to me is highly realistic. A matter of fact I believe that there are people just like Miss Brill around us all the time. I tend to people watch as Miss Brill does to be honest. I think that the author does a wonderful job of bringing the reader into the setting.
Everything described was very vivid and real. It is easy for me to envision the type of woman Miss Brill is, what she looks like, how she walks, how she observes. Even the frolicking people dancing and walking around in the Sunday sun strikes me as a likely scenario.
In conclusion, both are well written stories, but personally I prefer the story " Miss Brill."
Hood, Mary. " How Far She Went." Perrine's Story and Structure. 11th edition.
Ed. Thomas R. Arp. Boston: Wadsworth, 2006. 121-129.
Mansfield, Katherine. " Miss Brill." Perrine's Story and Structure. 11th edition.
Ed. Thomas R. Arp. Boston: Wadsworth, 2006. 117-121.