The Skylight Room (Henry)

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The Skylight Room
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Four Million»
Microsummary: A young woman rented a small, dark room with a skylight and named a star she could see through it. Struggling to find work, she became weak from starvation until a doctor saved her life.

In a house with various rooms for rent, Mrs. Parker, the landlady, showed potential tenants around, always starting with the double parlors. She preferred renting to doctors or dentists and looked down on those who did not fit her criteria.

Mrs. Parker — landlady of the house with the Skylight Room; strict, judgmental, and focused on renting to doctors or dentists.

When a young woman named Miss Elsie Leeson came looking for a room, she was shown the more expensive options first. Unable to afford them, Miss Leeson was eventually taken to the small, dark "Skylight Room" by Clara, the maid.

Miss Elsie Leeson — young woman who rents the Skylight Room; struggling to find work; small, with large eyes and hair; gay-hearted, whimsical, imaginative.

Despite its size and darkness, Miss Leeson took the room, as it had a skylight through which she could see a star she named "Billy Jackson."

Good-bye, Billy," she murmured faintly. "You're millions of miles away and you won't even twinkle once.

Miss Leeson worked as a typist, but soon struggled to find work and became weak from starvation. In the evenings, she would sit on the steps outside the house with other tenants, including Mr. Skidder, a playwright; Miss Longnecker, a tall blonde school teacher; Miss Dorn, a department store worker; Mr. Hoover, a 45-year-old man; and Mr. Evans, a very young man. They all enjoyed Miss Leeson's company, but Miss Longnecker and Miss Dorn were often critical of her.

One evening, Miss Leeson mentioned the star she named "Billy Jackson," which Miss Longnecker corrected as Gamma of the constellation Cassiopeia. Despite the correction, Miss Leeson continued to call the star "Billy Jackson." Eventually, Miss Leeson's health deteriorated due to her lack of work and food. One day, she collapsed in her room, and an ambulance was called.

Dr. William Jackson, the ambulance doctor, arrived and carried Miss Leeson out of the house. He was furious with Mrs. Parker for allowing her tenant to reach such a state of weakness.

Dr. William Jackson (Billy) — ambulance doctor who saves Miss Leeson; capable, confident, and caring; has a serious demeanor when attending to patients.

Dr. Jackson took Miss Leeson to Bellevue Hospital, where he said she would recover. The coincidence of the doctor's name being the same as the star Miss Leeson named added a layer of connection to the story, as the star had been a source of comfort for her during her difficult times.