‘The Richer, The Poorer’ by Dorothy West

The Richer, The Poorer by Dorothy West, 1947

The magic trick:

Ironic lessons learned at the end of the story

Listen to The Kinks song “Two Sisters,” and you’ll get a good idea of what’s going on here in this story. We’ve got two sisters. One lives frivolously for love. The other lives frugally for the sake of being wise. Fate returns them together late in life. I bet you’ll never guess the lesson they learn. Yes, it’s cliché, but thumbs up for some solid use of irony. And that’s quite a trick on West’s part.

The selection:

The years, after forty, began to race. Suddenly Lottie was sixty, and retired from her job by her boss’s son, who had no sentimental dealing about keeping her on until she was ready to quit.
She made several attempts to find other employment, but her dowdy appearance made her look old and inefficient. For the first time in her life Lottie would gladly have worked for nothing to have some place to go, something to do with her day.

Harry died abroad, in a third-rate hotel, with Bess weeping as hard as if he had left her a fortune.

He had left her nothing but his horn. There wasn’t even money for her passage home.

Lottie, trapped by the blood tie, knew she would not only have to send for her sister, but take her in when she returned. It didn’t seem fair that Bess should reap the harvest of Lottie’s lifetime of self-denial.


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