Monday, September 29, 2008

Short Story: Leaving the Yellow House (1957) by Saul Bellow

I read Leaving the Yellow House (1957) by Saul Bellow online in Narrative Magazine.

This is about Hattie Waggoner who is seventy two years and lives alone in a Yellow House. Only six people live at Sego Desert Lake, including her. The neighbours are helpul and caring.

"Hattie was not exactly a drunkard, but she hit the bottle pretty hard, and now she was in trouble and there was a limit to the help she could expect from even the best of neighbors."

Nonetheless, Hattie is liked by her neighbours. Then she has an accident, where one of her arm breaks. She is unable to take care of herself and her neigbours urge her to sell her house so that she will have some money to look after herself by taking in someone else. Hattie has lived in the yellow house independently for more than twenty years.

She is forced to look out for options. She looks back at her life. However, as is her habit, she procastinates that too. She has always lived in self deception, where the world is all rosy for even though the truth is so much further. The Yellow House has been her home for twenty years, a part of her. She cannot give it up.

The story ends, with Hattie thinking,“Only tonight I can’t give the house away. I’m drunk and so I need it. And tomorrow, she promised herself, I’ll think again. I’ll work it out for sure.”