Short Story #234: What a Thought by Shirley Jackson

Title:  What a Thought

Author:  Shirley Jackson


Shirley Jackson: Image source:
After dinner, Margaret sits with her husband and is seized by an urge to bash her husband's head in with an heavy ashtray.  She is disturbed by this thought and doesn't understand where it is coming from.  He husband appears friendly and asks her what she would to do for the evening.  Part of her mind tries to convince her not to do it while the inexplicable urge continues to push her.  She soon ponders different ways of doing it and her husband begins to see something is wrong with her.  He asks if she is ok, but she assures him, she's fine. As they converse about what to do, darker and darker thoughts continue to overpower her until finally, she picks up the ashtray and smashes it down.


This has much of the same bite of Jackson's famous short story, The Lottery, but a different execution (pun intended).  Here, we're told right away of the final demise and just like in The Lottery, we are hard pressed to believe it could happen, but slowly but surely, Margaret realizes it is inevitable.  What's curious is the why of it.  Does the violence represent some larger disdain that she has for her husband or some injustice that he has done or is this a rage again men in general or just a rage against the world?

Short Story #334 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  7/26/2014
Source:  The short story can be found at this website.  

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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