#007 The Trousseau

Here is a 2000 word story. http://eldritchpress.org/ac/jr/007.htm

Travis review:

This is the first Chekhov story to use first person narration exclusively (A Living Chattel slipped into it at the end) and there is also a paragraph that drops into second person. The atmosphere of this tale is his most gothic so far. The story concerns an isolated mother and daughter in a house that time forgot. The pair make clothes and embroideries for the daughter’s trousseau (a hope chest) of which there are several boxes, although the daughter claims she will never marry. The narrator, however, does not believe she wishes to remain unwed. Also thrown into the mix is a weird uncle who was rejected from the monastery for being too drunk. The narrator returns seven years later and both the mother and daughter have aged. The daughter especially. They are busy working on the trousseau because the uncle is breaking into the boxes and giving the garments to the poor. I’ll stop with the plot here, but the refrain “We are alone in the world,” is first said here and repeated four more times. This story seems to be about complacently hoping for the future and preparing for the end result, but never taking the necessary steps to make it happen. By never leaving the house, the daughter will never get married, regardless of how many trousseaus are created. This story also reminded me of Tennessee William’s Glass Menageries with the gloomy atmosphere and Gentleman Caller and the mother/daughter combo.

Rating: 6

Steve review:

The description of the house in the opening paragraph set the stage for what the reader should expect of its inhabitants.  Small, gloomy, and lost to sight amid the surrounding trees, the occupants do not care for sunlight–“the light is no use to them”.  Preferring to live out their lives hoping for a future they have no intention of pursuing, they twiddle away packing garments in a box (trousseau)…and not just one box mind you, but several.  This purposeless activity is only broken by the crazy uncle who, God forbid, tries to put their clothes to good use (albeit to atone for his own sins).  The absence of the daughter later in the story seems to almost go unnoticed by all but the narrator, who I suspect appreciated the loss most.

Rating:  7

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