‘The Valiant Woman’ by J.F. Powers

Powers, J.F. 1947

The Valiant Woman by J.F. Powers, 1947

The magic trick:

Suggesting a certain dynamic throughout the story but refusing to corroborate such thoughts until the end

This story suggests things, puts ideas in your head, but never comes out and says it. Boy, these two sure bicker and bumble like an old married couple, the reader thinks. But the story is slow to validate this idea. Then, near the end, when the priest reveals that he is sharing these same thoughts with the reader it feels like a wonderful relief. A confirmation, if you will. And that’s quite a trick on Powers’s part.

The selection:

“We’ve been at it long enough, Mrs. Stoner,” he said, seeing her assembling the cards for another round.

“Had enough, huh!”

Father Firman grumbled something.



She pulled the table away and left it against the wall for the next time. She went out of the study carrying the socks, content and clucking. He closed his eyes after her and began to get under way in the rocking chair, the nightly trip to nowhere. He could hear her brewing a cup of tea in the kitchen and conversing with the cat. She made her way up the stairs, carrying the tea, followed by the car, purring.

What do you think about this story? As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

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