Luella Miller

Author

Freeman, Mary E. Wilkins

Genre

Short Story

Overview

Much of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's work concerns the daily realities of life in the provincial New England towns of the late nineteenth century. Valued today for her insight into the minds of women, she sometimes uses supernatural elements as a tool to penetrate the psychological depths of her female characters. Her story ʺLuella Millerʺ concerns a beautiful, graceful woman whom people feel compelled to serve. But it becomes a kind of horror tale, because those providing for Luella seem to extinguish themselves in the process. This story raises disturbing questions about the potential dark side of service and our relationship with those whom we serve.

Full Text*

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Source

Everbody's Magazine in December 1902

Type

Reading

Themes

Giving and ReceivingHealth and HealingPoverty and NeedRoles and Boundaries

Big Questions

How much should I give? What, if anything, might limit my giving?How do we respond to the suffering of others? How would we like others to respond to our own?How does healing occur? What makes it possible?How do we know what someone needs?How should we respond to people and communities in need?What are the limits of my ability to help or serve?

Publication

Civically Engaged Reader

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What are your first reactions to Luella Miller?
  2. Why do you think Luella claims she needs help?
  3. What do you think of Lydia Anderson's resistence to help Luella Miller and her reasons for resisting it?
  4. How does Luella interact with those who help her?
  5. What do you make of the line about Maria Brown "if she died helpin' them that couldn't help themselves she would--and she did"?
  6. In your own work, when do you give so much of yourself for someone else that your physical or emotional health suffers?
  7. How do we reconcile helping others and helping ourselves?
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