Feed on

In “Imperial Chrysanthemum” each character have a distinct personality and a clear voice. Boggs describes the actions of the characters in great detail; “She presses her pink, wrinkled thumb into the concave surface of the spoon and closes her eyes as if that spoon could tell us where to find its mate.” (32) Boggs presents the reader with important details about the characters in her story through the narration of the main character, Loretta. At one point in the story, the narrator, Loretta, expresses an important detail about her life, “I never had any babies, but that was not my choice. And besides, I was always focused.” (33) This small detail allows the reader to better understand Loretta’s character, and from that point on, the reader has a different perception of Loretta and her life.

I know a boat can’ t tell you anything you don’t want to know. All it says is get away, get away. (44)

The narrator is constantly surrounded physically and mentally by people in this story. If Loretta is not assisting Mrs. Cutie, she is reflecting on the complicated relationships in her life. Loretta is a quiet woman who keeps her emotions silently bottled up. She contrasts with Mrs. Cutie and other characters in the story, like her niece Tamara who is very outspoken. She longs for the moments where she can be alone, which is why I think that Loretta’s house boat is a metaphor for the way in which she wishes to escape the mundane avocations of her life, and start anew.

A puzzling circumstance that begins and ends this story is the question of where Mrs. Cutie’s precious silverware has gone. There seems to be no certainty given through the characters’ actions that give way to who the culprit of stealing the silverware might be. However, when the sheriff questions Loretta about letting anyone other than herself into Cutie’s house, she lies because she suspects that her great-niece’s boyfriend, Charlie, might have stolen it when Loretta allowed Tamara and Charlie into Cutie’s house one day.

I think the ending of this story is charming, in a way, in how the narrator describes how Loretta “gets Cutie back” by having her family steal Cutie’s imperial chrysanthemum silverware, even if she doesn’t outright say it. “On my meaner days I go to the drawer at Tamara’s. I like the cold, briny taste of a silver spoon in my mouth.” (46)


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.