Walbert uses selected images to convey a scene, focusing on certain details to describe a street or view through a window. Her style is reminiscent of the Imagists, including Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell, a group of American and British poets in the second decade of the twentieth century who were noted for the exactness and clarity of the concrete details they employed in their work. Rebecca has a photographic or painterly way of seeing and elaborating on details in the setting. In one instance, she sees a woman through a window in a building across the street from her own hotel room. She imagines the woman carrying cognac and sliced pears in from the kitchen to set on a table beautifully arranged amidst antique chests covered in velvet. These elegant and homey visions contrast with the gray Paris street and the bare hotel room, but ultimately, they seem to promise that someday she, too, can establish this sense of place and home. At other points, Rebecca’s visions become blurred. When she initially thinks of Paris before the trip, “the name is enough” to conjure images of excitement, but they are only hazy bits of historic events and springtime blooms since “she can’t remember” the details. A picture on the wall of a café vaguely reminds her of a poem she read in school, but she cannot name it. This juxtaposition between photographic and blurry images reinforces the tension between reality and illusion in the story. The title of the story juxtaposes the city name and the year. It provides two facts: one of place, the other of time. The suggestion is that the story is located in the past, that in the intervening cities and years between the setting of this story and the reading of it much has happened. But readers are not told about what follows or given hints about it.
Ira Mark Milne – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 24, Kate Walbert, Published by Gale Group, 2006