Posted in Female Author, Short Story

Deal Me In, Week 26 ~ “Trial by Combat”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Trial by Combat” by Shirley Jackson

Card picked: Seven of Spades
From: The Lottery, and Other Stories

Thoughts: Since June 27th was “Lottery Day,” it’s seems appropriate that my story for this week is by Shirley Jackson.

I’ve just finished watching season six of A Game of Thrones. Obviously, this story is a different interpretation of “trial by combat” than what George R. R. Martin might present.

(This is from season 4, but a great "trial by combat" scene.)
(This is from season 4, but still a great trial-by-combat scene.)

Emily, a thirty-something whose husband is in the Army, has lived alone in the furnished room for six weeks. For the past two weeks, items have gone missing from her room. Small items—handkerchiefs, cigarettes, an “E” pin that she bought at a five-and-dime. She knows who the culprit is, Mrs. Allen who lives below her, and she knows what she will say when she confronts small, neat, older Mrs. Allen. Will she underestimate her foe?

So many of Shirley Jackson’s stories are “quiet.” Jackson easily captures those moments of indecision and deception that everyone has now and again. It’s that universality that make her stories realistic when they take a turn toward the weird.