‘The Widow’s Son’ by Mary Lavin

The Widow’s Son by Mary Lavin, 1946

The magic trick:

Presenting two possible conclusions in order to make a point about the widow

This story gives the reader a little bit of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” thing halfway through. We get the story of a boy coming home from school on his bike up to a crucial point. We then get two different endings – one we’re told as it happened; the other as it might have been.

Ultimately, it doesn’t need to be an either-or decision for the reader. It is together that the endings function best, combining to present a sad and damning portrait of the widow.

And that’s quite a trick on Lavin’s part.

The selection:

After all, what I am about to tell you is no more of a fiction than what I have already told, and I lean no heavier now upon your credulity than, with your full consent, I did in the first instance.

And moreover, in many respects the new story is the same as the old.

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