Ardessa

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Ardessa is a short story by Willa Cather. It was first published in Century in May 1918.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

An uppity woman, Ardessa, walks into the offices of "The Outcry", a weekly magazine. Later, she tells off Becky for her shoddy jobs, although it could be said she is bullying her. Miss Kalski gives her tickets for a show and Ardessa only lets her off because Mr Henderson will agree. Ardessa then goes on holiday and gets Miss Milligan to do her job whilst she is away. However, Marcus finds out Becky could be doing a better job and gets her to do it instead. When Ardessa is back, she is told to move to the business department, where she is humbled by Miss Kalski and Mr Henderson.

Characters[edit]

  • The receptionist, an older man.
  • Miss Ardessa Devine
  • Marcus O'Mally, the proprietor and editor of "The Outcry", a national weekly. He comes from Goldfield, Nevada and owns a silver-mine in South Dakota.
  • Mr Gerrard, a journalist.
  • James, an office boy.
  • Becky, the copyist.
  • Miss Rena Kalski, a woman who works in the business department.
  • Isaac Tietelbaum, Becky's father. He is a tailor. He has eight children.
  • Mr Henderson
  • Miss Milligan

Allusions to actual history[edit]

Allusions to other works[edit]

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

The story was written by Cather solely to earn money while she was writing My Antonia.[2] It was informed by her own journalistic experience at McClure's and her subsequent 'caustic' stance towards muckrakers.[3] It was also influenced by her work for the Home Monthly and the Pittsburgh Leader.[4]

Critics have added that she might have identified with either Becky[5] or Kalski.[6] The story has been construed as an attack on the American standardization that Cather hated.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Uncle Valentine and Other Stories: Willa Cather's Uncollected Short Fiction, 1915-29, University of Nebraska Press; Dec 1973, page 115
  2. ^ James Leslie Woodress, Willa Cather - A Literary Life, University of Nebraska Press, 1989, page 286
  3. ^ Hermione Lee, Willa Cather: Double Lives, New York: Pantheon, 1989, pp. 63-65
  4. ^ Sheryl L. Meyering, A Reader's Guide to the Short Stories of Willa Cather, G.K. Hall & Co, 1995, p.4
  5. ^ Bernice Slote, 'Introduction', Willa Cather, Uncle Valentine and Other Stories: Willa Cather's Uncollected Short Fiction, 1915-1929, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973, pp. xii-xiii
  6. ^ Marilyn Arnold, Willa Cather's Short Fiction, Athens: Ohio University Press, 1984, p. 102
  7. ^ Edward A. Bloom and Lillian D. Bloom, Willa Cather's Gift of Sympathy, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1962, p. 86

External links[edit]