An Unfinished Story (Henry)

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An Unfinished Story
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Four Million»
Microsummary: A young department store worker, struggling to make ends meet, was asked out by a manipulative man. She initially agreed but changed her mind, inspired by her hero's picture on her dresser.

Dulcie was a young woman who worked in a department store, earning a meager six dollars per week. She lived in a small furnished room and struggled to make ends meet. Despite her financial difficulties, Dulcie managed to maintain a sense of pride and dignity. She had a few personal treasures, including a picture of her hero, General Kitchener, which she kept on her dresser.

Dulcie — young department store worker; lives on six dollars per week; admires General Kitchener; slender, tall, dark blue dress and black feathered hat; lonely, strong-willed, imaginative.

One day, Dulcie was asked out to dinner by a man named Piggy, who was known for taking advantage of vulnerable young women.

Piggy (Mr. Wiggins) — man who preys on vulnerable young women; invites Dulcie to dinner; fat, expensive clothes; manipulative, unscrupulous, selfish.

Excited by the prospect of a night out, Dulcie agreed to the date and began preparing for the evening. She spent her last fifty cents on an imitation lace collar to complete her outfit, sacrificing her budget for food in the process.

As Dulcie got ready for her date, she felt a sense of excitement and anticipation. She imagined the luxurious dinner, the music, and the elegantly dressed ladies she would see. However, as she looked at herself in the mirror, she caught sight of General Kitchener's stern yet tender gaze. This made her reconsider her decision to go out with Piggy.

Dulcie hurried homeward. Her eyes were shining, and her cheeks showed the delicate pink of life's—real life's—approaching dawn.

Feeling a sense of loyalty to her hero, Dulcie decided not to go on the date. She told her landlady to inform Piggy that she was not feeling well and would not be going out. After the landlady left, Dulcie cried for a while, feeling the weight of her loneliness and the missed opportunity for a brief escape from her difficult life.

Dulcie fell upon her bed, crushing her black tip, and cried for ten minutes. General Kitchener was her only friend.

Dulcie spent the rest of the evening alone in her room, wearing her old blue kimono and engaging in various activities to pass the time. She sang, examined her appearance, and even told her fortune using a deck of cards. At one point, she took out a tin box of crackers and a pot of raspberry jam, enjoying a small feast by herself.

The story ends with the implication that Dulcie may eventually give in to Piggy's advances when she is feeling particularly lonely, and General Kitchener is not there to remind her of her self-worth.