Truman Capote's Short Story 'Miriam'

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James Russell Lowell once said, “Life is the jailer, death the angel sent to draw the unwilling bolts and set us free.” In the short story “Miriam”, Truman Capote introduces a miserable woman named Mrs. H.T. Miller who met a mysterious girl named Miriam. Miriam seems to be the Angel of Death, who has been sent to prepare Mrs.Miller for the last moments of her life on Earth. Miriam’s appearance and her actions, Mrs.Miller’s behavioral changes after Miriam’s arrival, as well as Mrs.Miller’s confrontations help conclude that this ghost came to make the woman aware of her approaching death. Miriam’s appearance and persona help conclude that she may be a ghost. Miriam is described as a young girl with a fragile figure, silver-white hair, and a…show more content…
Although the lonely woman was excited that Miriam had noticed her at first, she soon became scared. The woman did not treat Miriam like a child. Mrs.Miller did not welcome the girl into her home. She was disoriented at how Miriam was able to locate her simply because their first names were the same. She constantly yelled at Miriam to get out and leave her alone, despite the freezing temperatures, snow, and late hour of the night. Once again, this may show that Miriam didn’t even appear to be an ordinary girl to the woman herself. Mrs.Miller confessed, “...there’s a little girl visiting me, and I suppose I’m afraid of her…she’s about to do something worse-something terrible!” Mrs.Miller noticed how Miriam manipulated her. For example, Mrs.Miller went on an unplanned shopping trip that she wasn’t able to control, yet she bought everything Miriam was later grateful for: white roses, cherries, and almond cakes. Miriam also begged for Mrs.Miller’s brooch from her husband, and only felt satisfied when she received the valuable possession. Miriam’s goal was to prepare Mrs.Miller for her death, so after she received all the items she wished for, Mrs.Miller realized that she had no one in the world to count on. At that point Miriam knew that Mrs.Miller was ready to leave the world in which she was alone in. Mrs.Miller was paranoid about getting Miriam to leave her alone, but why would…show more content…
After meeting Miriam, Mrs.Miller had a dream describing a girl leading a dull procession to an unknown place. The unidentified place may represent death, and the dream may be foreshadowing her fate. It is possible that the strange, eerie old man who acknowledged Mrs.Miller on the street, may have been the same man as in her dream. That might’ve also be the same man that Miriam has previously lived with, so he was already a ghost when confronting Mrs.Miller. The incident made her feel even more uncomfortable about meeting Miriam, suspecting that she may be close to her own death as well. Mrs.Miller was the next person that Miriam was making arrangements for. Additionally, Miriam noticed her house getting emptier and duller. She thought of it as “lifeless and petrified as a funeral parlor”. Mrs.Miller could no longer control what was going on in her apartment, and didn’t even have the strength to move herself. Miriam was undoubtedly in full control of Mrs.Miller’s life at that point, meaning that that the woman probably followed Miriam to the

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