Short story: “The Ugly Duckling”

by look i have opinions

“The Ugly Duckling,” by Frank O’Connor

Appears in Domestic Relations and Collected Stories

Around 9,000 words?

Because of some inadequacy in themselves—poverty or physical weakness in men, poverty or ugliness in women—those with the gift of creation built for themselves a rich interior world; and when the inadequacy disappeared and the real world was spread before them with all its wealth and beauty, they could not give their whole heart to it. Uncertain of their choice, they wavered between goals—were lonely in crowds, dissatisfied amid noise and laughter, unhappy even with those they loved best. The interior world called them back, and for some it was a case of having to return there or die.

It’s unusual for me to find in literary fiction something of immediate relevance to my life. I suppose I keep reading it for rare bits of insight like this.