Short story: “The Terrors of Basket-Weaving”
by look i have opinions
“The Terrors of Basket-Weaving,” by Patricia Highsmith
Collected in The Black House in 1981; also in The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith and Selected Novels and Short Stories
This story bears some resemblance to Virginia Woolf’s “Solid Objects,” which portrays a similar obsession (artistic? primal? both?). One protagonist ultimately abandons civilization, the other clings to it.
The title is so grandiose that I wonder if the author is having some fun at her character’s expense. After all, Highsmith is a practitioner of a craft as ancient as basket-weaving, and is far more dedicated to it.
Then there’s the symbolism of an empty, torn-up baby basket finding its way to someone who is childless by choice. Contrary to the usual trope, Diane doesn’t seem to be threatened by the symbolic loss of a child, or the lost opportunity to have one, only by her own latent creative potential. Maybe that’s why the symbolism doesn’t weigh the story down: the thing being symbolized is somewhat unexpected, and mysterious.