This week, I’m just going to share a few random thoughts about this story.
Not Paris. Not Italy. Madrid. (There are so many pretty pictures of Madrid. But this picture makes me think of the women in the story.)
Pillar fears she is too old to remarry. She married at 17, her husband died two years later, and she’s been a widow for three years. You can do the math.
I’ve always wanted to know how you read cards. Not Tarot. But standard playing cards used for divination. (And how funny that she believes the cards lie on Sundays.)
The irony of Carlos working in a bank, but for a salary so small that he is always in debt.
“I have never seen so many queues, or so many patient people.” They say that people in Toronto love to stand in lines. That they will join without asking what people are waiting for.
Don’t you know someone just like this? “He had already calculated, with paper and pencil, what the future held, and decided it was worth only half a try.” In the story, this describes a young person. But I know people of all ages who would suit this description.
Thoughts of Katherine Mansfield. “It was a pension, of a sort, but secret.” Not the secret part. That’s all Gallant. (I keep meaning to revisit Mansfield. I know I should.)
Her description of Carlos is brilliant. But I love this simple bit, which comes first. “We could have quarrelled about a piece of string.” (Also, how they played chess often, despite all their quarrelling.)
Summary: “Poverty is not a goad, but a paralysis.” I think I remember reading somewhere that Mavis Gallant had to sell her coat once, waiting for payment for a story.