Alicia and Jordan return from their three-month honeymoon deeply in love, but Alicia never feels at home in the new house. She is young, “angelic” and timid. She loves her husband who loves her in return. He just never shows it. She never complains about the house or the white patio with its friezes, columns and statues that gave the impression of perpetual winter.
Alicia becomes chilled. She loses weight. She catches an influenza that hangs on for days and finally takes to her bed. Dreams fill her head. The doctors cannot explain her weakness or failure to recover. They merely say she has become anemic.
It’s not until after she dies and the servant is cleaning her room that the cause of her suffering is discovered.
This is an incredibly sad little story, all the more so because the young bride doesn’t seem to have a chance. She wants to please her husband. She won’t talk to her husband because she doesn’t want to bother him and he won’t talk to her because he is reserved.
I’d never heard of this author before reading this story. He led an interesting and tragic life, losing a couple brothers to typhoid and once accidentally killing a friend while checking his gun. The friend, another writer, was getting ready for a duel with a harsh critic. Hmmm… sure there’s a moral there somewhere.
A Uruguayan playwright and writer, Quiroga was influenced by Edgar Allen Poe, among others, and in turn influenced such writers as Gabriel García Márquez.
Title: “The Feather Pillow”
Author: Horacio Quiroga (1878-1937)
First published: Spanish title “El almohadón de plumas” in the Argentinian magazine Caras y Caretas (“Faces and Masks”) 1907