‘The Peach Stone’ by Paul Horgan

Horgan, Paul 1942

The Peach Stone by Paul Horgan, 1942

The magic trick:

Highlighting the jealousy felt by the teacher

Horgan does a nice job of showing each point of view of the four characters in the car. My favorite detail among them is the jealousy felt by the teacher, Miss Latcher. It’s a remarkable thing that during a tragedy as bleak as the accidental death of a 2-year-old a woman could be envious of the loss. But Horgan makes it believable, thereby shading the tragedy in a whole new light. Miss Latcher’s life is so devoid of love she envies the connection the family feels, even as the connecting bond is grief. I wasn’t as moved as perhaps many readers will be by the mother’s spiritual journey throughout the story, but I very much admire the insight about loss and tragedy Miss Latcher’s reaction highlights. And that’s quite a trick on Horgan’s part.

The selection:

It made her head swim to realize this. But she envied them their entanglement with one another, and the dues they paid each other in the humility of the duty they were performing on this ride, to the family burial ground at Weed. Here she sat riding with them, to come along and be of help to them, and she was no help. She was unable to swallow the lump of desire that rose in her throat, for life’s uses, even such bitter ones as that of the Powers family today. It had been filling her gradually, all the way over on the trip, this feeling of jealousy and degradation.

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2 Comments on “‘The Peach Stone’ by Paul Horgan”

  1. Jay says:

    I just read this on my lunch hour today in preparation for my short story reading “book” club with my coworkers. I too found the teacher character the most interesting to think about, and that is one of my questions for the group tonight. Which of the four characters is this story most about? This was my first time reading anything by Horgan.


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