- A Gold Slipper
"A Gold Slipper" is a short story by
Willa Cather. It was first published in " Harper's" in January 1917 [Willa Cather's Collected Short Fiction, University of Nebraska Press; Rev Ed edition, 1 Nov 1970, page 591] .
Mr McKann is badgered by his wife into going to the opera with her and her visiting friend Mrs Post. Although he thought there were no tickets left, Mrs Post has managed to get special seats on the stage. He is dressed inappropriately for a night out.
He gets bored throughout the concert, and the singer Kitty Ayrshire notices his yawns and glares. Later he is on his way to
New York Cityand accepts to drive the singer to the station, as her car has stopped working. She only finds out it is him when they get to the station, as she couldn't see his face properly before that. Once on the train, she decides to join him and to ask him why he didn't like her performance. He says he is a serious businessman and he despises artists. She later tells her maid Celine she doesn't think he is too smart.
The next day he realises she has dropped one of her golden slippers, and decides to tuck it into his suitcase. At his hotel he bins it, but the cleaning-lady puts it back in his closet, thinking it must have been a mistake. He decides to keep it, and stashes it in a box for no one else to see.
Years later, he has become 'morbid', or depressed. Kitty, on the contrary, has forgotten all about it.
*Marshall McKann. He is a
Presbyterianand supports the Republican Party. He works as a coal businessman.
*Mrs McKann, Marshall's wife.
*Mrs Post, a friend of Mrs McKann's. She went to school with her. She now lives in
*Kitty Ayrshire, an opera singer. She is
*Céline, Kitty's maid.
Allusions to other works
*Music is mentioned through the
Ballets Russes, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Frideric Handel, Ludwig van Beethoven, and "Faust".
*Kitty asks Mr McKann what he thinks of
Leo Tolstoy's 1897 " What Is Art?".
*Kitty later calls herself the
Queen of Sheba, in that she is never afraid to learn more.
Literary criticism and significance
It has been suggested that Mr McKann might be 'a drag queen at heart' [Wayne Koestenbaum, "The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality and the Mystery of Desire", Gay Men's Press, 1994, page 43] .
* [http://www.online-literature.com/willa-cather/2117/ Full text]
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