Introduction & Overview of Pomegranate Seed by Edith Wharton

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Pomegranate Seed Summary & Study Guide Description

Pomegranate Seed Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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Edith Wharton composed the ghost story, "Pomegranate Seed," near the end of 1930, and saw it published by the Ladies' Home Journal in 1931. The tale was subsequently included in Wharton's collection of short fiction, The World Over (1936), and then in her collection, Ghosts, published in 1937, the last year of the author's life. Readers of that collection admired Wharton's skill in writing tales of the supernatural, but several reviewers believed the ghost story to be a less important genre than the novels of social observation by which Wharton had made her reputation over the previous decades. While Wharton's novels remain at the center of her achievements, her ghost stories have gained critical acknowledgment over the years. "Pomegranate Seed" is admired for the relentless pacing of its suspenseful plot, for the particularity with which its principal characters are rendered, and for the chilling evocation of the supernatural achieved by the story's ending. "Pomegranate Seed" surely possesses the "thermometrical quality" cited by Wharton as the hallmark of good ghost stories; she believed a well-crafted ghost story should send a cold shiver down the reader's spine. The story's title is derived from the Greco-Roman myth of Persephone, which Wharton is likely to have read in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Abducted by Pluto, the Lord of the Dead, Persephone is not permitted to leave the underworld permanently because she has eaten six pomegranate seeds in the gardens of death. Contemporary critical debate on Wharton's story has focused, in large degree, upon establishing correspondences between Wharton's characters and their predecessors in the Persephone myth. Striking in its mythological resonances, "Pomegranate Seed" is also a powerful meditation on the supernatural, on the conflict between flesh and spirit, and on the constant risk of alienation in human life.

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This section contains 291 words
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Short Stories for Students
Pomegranate Seed from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.