Deal Me In Lunar Extra ~ “A Journey”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

I was very indecisive when picking my Deal Me in Stories, so I added an extra “Lunar” twist.
For each full moon, I’ll be reading a horror story written by a woman. (I’m a day early this month. 😉 )

“A Journey” by Edith Wharton

Card picked: A Three

From: The Greater Inclination, available for free at Amazon & Project Gutenberg

Thoughts: The physical titular journey is a train trip from Colorado to New York. Our travelers are a young wife and her very sick husband. They had moved to Colorado for his health, but the change in climate hasn’t helped.

On one hand, the woman is relieved to be leaving a place she didn’t care for and returning to her old life and friends. On the other hand, this means that her husband won’t be getting better and will soon die. The illness has been terrible, robbing them both of strength and youth. When her husband dies a day away from their destination, she doesn’t tell anyone for fear that she and her husband’s corpse will be put off the train.

Wharton writes the character of the wife in a very neutral way. She could be very unsympathetic as she contemplates the sacrifices she’s made in vain, but instead I can understand her concerns. She’s been defined by her place in society, first as a woman and then as a wife. Now, there is an uncertainty in her life she could have never predicted. I’m reminded of the character of Eleanor Vance in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Eleanor is relieved when her ill and demanding mother dies, but also feels deeply guilty about being relieved.

“The Journey”also felt rather Hitchcockian to me. The woman is keenly aware of being watched  and judged during the entire trip. It only gets worse when she’s keeping an actual secret from them all.

About the Author: I’ll admit it, I’ve tried several times to read The Age of Innocence and have never made it to the halfway point despite adoring the movie and enjoying Ethan Frome. I haven’t read many of Wharton’s short works/ghost stories.

I chose this story via Paula Cappa post about it last year.