The Other Margaret (Formalist Analysis)

Summary: The story started when Stephen Elwin purchases the Rouault King from his dealer – designer friend, Mark Jennings, another costumer, a young lieutenant, comes in to disturb their “community of feeling”, delicately poised as they are in deliberation of the strangely attractive cruelty of this work of art. Elwin envies the younger man decision to off to war in order to share the experience of his generation. It is now that Elwin recalls and reflects on the Hazlitt line, “No young man believes he shall ever die,” from” On the Feeling of Immortality in the Youth.” First heard in Mr. Baxter’s high school classroom, the line, then the repeatedly thereafter, defines the nature of the inspiration for Elwin, crystallizing the wisdom he would live by and impart to his daughter.
Or so Elwin believes. Three incidents now test this belief, however, as he returns home, his bus driver, an older man, intentionally closes the door on a young boy and his brother for no visible reason. Elwin only supposes that he is displacing on to these strange boys a desire for revenge for filial ungratefulness he has suffered. Lucy Elwin, his wife, retells with ironic disregard an anti -Semitic joke picked up on her bus ride home, and young Margaret jumps to the mistaken conclusion that her own mother has been a secret racist. And finally, the family debates the difference between the old black maid and the new one, discovering the Margaret’s delight in for reading expressions of decency and the capability from victims of life’s injustices as nothing but example of “slave psychology’. Creeping hatred and critical suspicion, abroad in the land, even in the schools, have thus invaded the homes. Thus when the “other” Margaret intentionally breaks the Lamb, a birthday gift for her mother which is a small and delicate object in the sight of the idealistic Margaret, her father can offer her only a small solace. His daughter weeps bitterly and uncontrollably. And she weeps, not for the…

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