Short Story #13: Mrs. Frola and Mr. Ponza, Her Son-In-Law by Luigi Pirandello
Title: Mrs. Frola and Mr. Ponza, Her Son-In-Law
Author: Luigi Pirandello
Short Story #13 out of 365
Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)
Date Read: 1/6/2014
Source: The World's Greatest Short Stories, Dover Thrift Edition, edited by James Daley. The story can also be found here on Google Books.
SummaryThe narrator relates the a perplexing dilemma in his village dealing with Mrs. Frola and Mr. Ponza. Upon moving into town, Mr. Ponza rented a second apartment across town for his mother-in-law, Mrs. Frola. This appeared strange to some but even more so when Mrs. Frola began telling people that the situation is perfectly fine because Mr. Ponza has done this so that he can have his wife (Mrs. Frola's daughter) all to himself because his love for her is so powerful. However, right after this, Mr. Ponza comes around informing everyone that Mrs. Frola is in fact, crazy. Her daughter had died four years ago and Mr. Ponza has since remarried but Mrs. Frola refuses to believe it. Mrs. Frola follows around after this round of rumors by saying that in fact, Mr. Ponza is the crazy one--so obsessed with love for his wife was he that they had to fake is wife's death and then re-introduce her later wherein Mr. Ponza believe she was his second wife. The story ends with the most perplexing of notes that despite how each views the other as crazy, they are regularly seen throughout the village being friendly and caring for one another.
ReflectionI haven't read anything of Pirandello before but I did like this as a first story. There's a lot of good bits in this story. I like the idea that depending on who tells you something first, it's hard for you to unbelieve it. Pirandello also remarks that Mrs. Frola was more believable because of her appearance and demeanor. The challenge of who is telling the truth when it's clear that a lie must exist is of course the center of much mystery fiction. Of course, it also reminds me of the scene from the film, Labyrinth with the two doors.
Pirandello also speaks to a fascinating element of life in general and how we perceive and construct reality. "Impossible to discover which of the two it is; where illusion lies, where reality lies. Naturally, there arises in each mind the pernicious suspicion that, in that case, reality counts for no more than illusion does, and that every reality may very well be an illusion and vice versa." I like how he captured this conundrum and how in this instance, the village is left to decide who exactly is right and who is out of their mind. That is, it takes a village to construct reality.
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.
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