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The Vine: January 13, 2016

Submitted by on January 13, 2016 – 1:59 PM5 Comments


So, there's a short story I read in high school that I remember very little about, except for a few key details:

1. It's set in a somewhat rural area of the American South, during or shortly after a war (WWII, I think).

2. The opening scene features a young girl on her front porch, watching a cart being pulled by two horses approaching the house. The story gives a fair amount of detail about the horses being sweaty and and the girl's view of them being distorted by heat-shimmer. In our lit class, we discussed the horse imagery being a symbol for the girl's fear that her father has been killed in the war.

3. I think there's a later scene where the girl is at a theater and the story talks about how the theater is nice and cool, as opposed to the brutally hot weather outside.

4. I could have sworn that the story was by a famous female southern writer like Flannery O'Conner or Eudora Welty, but I've combed their bibliographies for short-story descriptions without finding anything that matches what I remember of the story.

Decades of Google-fu have not helped me identify the story. I'm hoping you or the readers might recognize it and help a sister out. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance for the help!

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  • Nanc says:

    I would swear that the scene in 2 appears in one of Agnes de Mille's biographies. Her recollections of her childhood featured lots of memories of horses and her father would have been the right age to serve in WWI (can't recall if he did, I read these 30 years ago!).

    Also, her reflections on early years in New York often talked about how hot the dance studios were compared to the cool of the actual theater.

    Hmmm, I guess the above is spectacularly unhelpful in IDing the short story, unless perhaps you were reading an excerpt from her biography. Biography as lit goes back a ways so it's possible.

    Also, Agnes de Mille did have an interesting life and I do recommend her biographies!

  • Annie says:

    Pivoting off of Nanc, above: a lot of HS readers/textbooks present excerpts from longer works as self-contained stories.

  • Maple Donut says:

    Danielle, when you say you read this in high school, around what year was that? Maybe that would help us narrow it down, at least in the sense of "written before X year".

  • Bopper says:

    Elizabeth Spencer The Girl who Loved Horses?

  • Danielle (OP) says:

    Hi, all! Thanks for the help… I know this one is a hell of a toughie, mostly thanks to my scant memory. Maple Donut, I would have read this around 1994-1995, although God only knows how old the text book was.

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