The Woman at the Store

The Woman At The Store is a 1912 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in "Rhythm" in Spring 1912 under the penname of Lili Heron.citebook|author=Katherine Mansfield|title=Selected Stories|publisher=Oxford World's Classics|chapter=Explanatory notes|isbn=9780192839862]

Plot summary

Jo, Hin and the narrator are riding horses, then stop at a store where Hin went four years back, joking that a blue-eyed blonde lives there. There they are greeted by a woman who appears to be mentally confused and dishevelled with missing teeth. They get an embrocation from the store to treat a wound on the horse, then she suggests giving them dinner and eventually staying for the night. Jo and Hin joke about the woman referring to how she knows 'how to kiss one hundred different ways'.

The Narrator bathes in the river.

They discover that the woman has attempted to make herself look pretty by putting on rouge and a different dress. Jo has combed back his hair, shaved, and changed. They start to get drunk and Jo and The Woman start 'kissing feet' under the table, slowly growing closer as they get more intoxicated. The Woman's daughter claims to be drawing a nude picture of the Narrator, saying she watched her bathing earlier. The Narrator is unsettled but the picture is not revealed.

As she gets more drunk The Woman reveals that her husband often beats her, forces sex on her, goes away often shearing for months at a time and that she is alone and isolated living in poverty. She then leaves and comes back and then goes off again. Her daughter threatens to draw the picture she's not allowed to and gets a smack and a stern warning from her mother.

Hin and the Narrator stay in the store room with The Woman's daughter. She then does a drawing of a woman pointing a gun at a man and a picture of a grave, intimating that her mother killed her father. Hin and the Narrator see the drawing, stay up all night in shock and then leave in the morning without Jo who has spent the night in The Woman's bed.


*Hin (a Māori name, this was changed to Jim by John Middleton Murry (Mansfield's second husband) in the edition of this story that appeared in "Something Childish and Other Stories").
*The narrator
*The woman at the store. She was a barmaid until she got married. After the first child was born her husband started beating her, as implied by the loss of her two front teeth (when she was previously described as beautiful) and her accusation that he caused her four miscarriages. She has suffered from emotional and physical abuse by her husband who she claims 'spoilt' and 'stole' her beauty, youth and innocence. She justifies why she killed her husband though she does not confess it.
*The woman's young daughter. She has been neglected by her mother, and is disliked by the other three characters ("Shut your mouth," said the woman. [...] "Good thing that's broke loose," said Jo. "I've 'ad it in me 'ead for three days."). She likes drawing, and is a generally unruly child: she plays in the dirt, picks earwax from her ears and spies on the narrator whilst she is bathing. She is also distressed at having to live with her insane mother who killed her father.

Major themes

* Isolation in the New Zealand country side
* New Zealand's relationship with Britain. New Zealand was viewed as Britain's 'little farm'
*Women's rights and how they were abused
*The idea of how women were expected to have children even if they weren't suited to motherhood

References to actual history

*The woman has a journal with coverage on Queen Victoria's Jubilee and a portrait of Richard Seddon.

Literary significance

The text is written prior to Mansfield's shift to the modernist mode, with a linear narrative and conventional resolution in denouement. Because of this, Mansfield grew to dislike the story somewhat, and refused to have the story reprinted "par example" in her lifetime.


* [ Full Text (New Zealand Electronic Text Centre)]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Speaker's House — is a historical museum located in Trappe, PA that preserves the home of Frederick August Muhlenberg, the First and Third Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.History of the Muhlenberg HouseOverview of the Muhlenberg House: From… …   Wikipedia

  • The Shop on Main Street — Film poster Directed by Ján Kadár Elmar Klos …   Wikipedia

  • Woman's Building — The Woman s Building was a non profit public art and educational center focused on showcasing women s art and culture. It existed in Los Angeles from 1973 to 1991. HistoryThe founding of the Woman s Building in Los Angeles in 1973 was the… …   Wikipedia

  • The Drew Carey Show — Cast Format Sitcom Created by Drew Carey Bruce Helford …   Wikipedia

  • The Money Dragon — is a historical fiction novel written by Pam Chun in 2002. It tells the story of a Chinese immigrant, Lau Ah Leong, through the eyes of his daughter in law.Book Structure The Money Dragon opens with a foreword by former U.S. Senator Hiram Fong.… …   Wikipedia

  • The Sands of Time — is a 1988 novel by novelist Sidney Sheldon.PlotThe story begins in Pamplona, Spain in 1976. The Basque people are fighting against Spain for their rights to free speech and cultural independence. While people are distracted with bulls let loose… …   Wikipedia

  • The Laden Showroom — is widely considered as London s leading showroom and store that promotes and supports young and independent fashion designers. Time Out Magazine describes the shop as a font of experimental design while the London Evening Standard calls it a… …   Wikipedia

  • The Littlest Hobo — The First Season DVD cover Genre Family Children s Melodrama …   Wikipedia

  • The Storm (short story) — The Storm is a short story by the American writer Kate Chopin, written in 1898. It did not appear in print in Chopin s lifetime; it was published in 1969. Plot summaryBobinôt and his four year old son, Bibi, are at Friedheimer s store when a… …   Wikipedia

  • The Companions of the Avatar — are various fictional characters that appear in the Ultima series of computer role playing games. The Companions refer to the characters the Avatar has adventured with over the course of the series. This includes all of the NPCs that join the… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.