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How Full is Your Life?

A look from above.
A look from above.

Edith Wharton wrote novels and short stories and won a Pulitzer Prize. Many of her other works overshadow her short stories, but “The Fulness of Life” is a good short read.

The story begins: “For hours she had lain in a kind of gentle torpor, not unlike that sweet lassitude which masters one in the hush of a midsummer noon, when the heat seems to have silenced the very birds and insects, and, lying sunk in the tasselled meadow-grasses, one looks up through a level roofing of maple-leaves at the vast shadowless, and unsuggestive blue.” This first sentence sets the pace for the rest of the story.

The Fulness of Life” opens with a woman’s death. Her death is followed by a conversation with the Spirit of Life. Many themes repeat through the course of the story. There is a direct discussion of the meaning of the fullness of life. How does the woman describe the fullness of life? Does she look back on her life with happiness or sadness?

Read “The Fulness of Life” to see how the story develops and how the conversation ends.