"The Landlady" and Other Short Stories

"The Landlady" and Other Short Stories Imagery

The landlady's hands ("The Landlady")

The narrator describes the landlady's hand as very white and quick-moving, but with bright red fingernails. These hands have a sly quality to them, and the red fingernails are an ominous symbol of the landlady's more dangerous nature.

Mamba and cow

After he realizes his cow's milk is being stolen in the night, the old man stakes out the thief. In the early morning, the old man notices a black mamba slithering towards his cow, until the mamba eventually stops at the cow's udder, suckling the milk.

Spider's silk

The spiders that Oswald collects in "The Visitor" are abundant, and Oswald collects their silk by keeping thousands of them in an old conservatory in the garden of a country house he owns outside of Paris. Oswald collects the raw thread from these spiders himself, and sends this thread to Avignon, where it is "reeled and thrown and scoured and dyed and made into cloth" (650-51). The cloth is then delivered to Sulka to make fashion ties. This vivid imagery of Oswald's spiders, and the way their silk turns into ties, adds to the extravagance of Oswald's character in "The Visitor."

White and black visions

In "Beware of the Dog," Williamson experiences visions of abstract black-and-white patterns while he is in the hospital recovering from his wounds. He sees the sun and "the whiteness of the clouds" (49) and he experiences himself somersaulting through the air as the sun and clouds chase each other in a circle. The world appears either white or black to Williamson, so he has learned to fall asleep during the white patches, and wake up during the black. While he experiences the white as slow and the world as mostly white, the black is quick and stays only for a short time. This strange imagery reflects Williamson's time falling out of his fighter plane and possibly falling into a coma after his injuries. This vibrant interplay between the white and black light suggests day and night, and the struggle between sleeping and waking states.