Sherwood Anderson: The Other Woman

Deal Me In 2019 – Week 7

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“I am in love with my wife,” he said – a superfluous remark, as I had not questioned his attachment to the woman he had married.

For Week 7 of my Deal Me In 2019 short story project, I read Sherwood Anderson’s 1920 story “The Other Woman”. I have to admit that it’s an odd story with a very unreliable narrator. It’s actually a story that someone is telling someone else. While technically the person being told the story is the narrator the majority of the story is what the other person tells the narrator. A little confusing? Yes.

The story teller continues to emphasize to whom he happens to be talking that he really does love his wife. He then tells of the week before he gets married and that he became infatuated – I guess that’s the right word – with the wife of a newspaper stand owner.

short stories century

It appears that he does have some sort of encounter with this “other woman” but the story is so disconnected in his mind that the reader wonders what is real and what is not.

He seems to be caught between the innocence of his wife – who seems very innocent – and this “other woman” who seems to know a little more of the ways of the world – if she is even real, that is.

At the beginning of the story, I get the feeling that this man is confessing something to the police or a detective – maybe confessing to a murder. But no murder has occurred. We’re not really even sure to whom he is talking. It’s another man and they are taking a walk. That’s all we know.

There is a sense of disillusionment to this story or maybe it’s more of just an illusion.

“The Other Woman” is included in The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. My Deal Me In list can be found here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

2 responses to “Sherwood Anderson: The Other Woman

  1. We read this one in my “after work short story reading group” and reactions were mixed as I recall. I’m not sure how much of the details I remember of it now.

    • It wasn’t my favorite. If it’s meant to be surreal/imaginary, it didn’t really work that well. If it’s meant to have some specific meaning or theme, I’m not sure exactly what it is.

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