Thursday, August 1, 2013

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 100: Robert Frost, The Question of a Feather (#133)

Robert Frost, "The Question of a Feather" (1903) from Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays:

Here is the second Robert Frost Story of the Week and again, just like the first piece, it's one of his poultry pieces. This one is less of a character sketch and more of a traditional, New England-style story. By "New England-style," I mean that it's a low-stakes story involving a man going to see some isolated old women, not unlike Sarah Orne Jewett's "An Autumn Holiday."

In this story, the editor of a chicken-instruction magazine gets a letter asking him to stop in and give these two old maids some advice about a chicken they want to exhibit. The only problem is this chicken has got an errant feather. So should they pull the feather? Or not exhibit him? The editor avoids giving an answer; and later, sees that they chose not to pull the feather and exhibit it--and of course it gets disqualified.

It's a pretty thin story, but there's a vein of humor running through it, as when we hear about the editor being afraid that people would take his advice; or how he might just be "shy of old maids disposed to follow his instructions to the letter." There's also a little farce about the confusion between "pullet" and "pull it," but that seems like it wandered in from some other story.

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