Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
“The Villager” by Shirley Jackson
Card picked: Eight of Spades – I swear I’m shuffling, but this is my third Shirley Jackson story in a row.
From: The Lottery and Other Stories
Miss Clarence lives in Greenwich village. She moved to New York City in hopes of becoming a dancer. Instead, she became a secretary to pay the bills and, twelve years on, has become a private secretary, has a comfortable apartment, and considers herself a “Village die-hard.” At age thirty-five, she is always on time, with a pack of Kools on hand, as she searches for the right furniture for her apartment.
Not like the Roberts’ who are selling off their (woefully inappropriately oak) furniture and keep a messy house. Miss Clarence doesn’t even meet Mrs. Roberts–Mrs. Roberts had to run an errand she forgot about and left with door unlocked with a note for Miss Clarence to look around until she gets back. The Roberts’ are obviously the artistic sort; their bookshelves full of books about painting and photography…and dance. To kill time, Miss Clarence strikes a dancer’s pose, something that she used to do but had always required work, and is interrupted by a young man also there to look at the furniture. In order to not seem foolish, Miss Clarence tells him that she is Mrs. Roberts, a dancer.
Of the three stories of Shirley Jackson’s that I’ve read in a row, this is the second with identity at its core. Jackson doesn’t really leave us with a firm sense of whether Miss Clarence is regretful of the path her life has taken; whether the work it took to be a dancer was joyous or, well, just work.
Is This Your Card?