Summary and Analysis: The October Country There Was an Old Woman””

“There Was an Old Woman” has a profound resemblance to Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” In both poem and story, the main character is an active individual, involved in too many labor and leisure time activities even to consider that life is drawing to a close. Likewise, Dickinson’s poem and Bradbury’s story both depict Death as a kind, polite, gentleman caller who stops by in order to take the protagonist on a ride. Of note here is Bradbury’s mild and gentle way of characterizing death. Since Death’s behavior is almost like that of an earthly lover, Bradbury obviously does not intend to horrify his readers with this physical description. Instead, he seems to direct his readers to Aunt Tildy. She is old now and, by her own admission, no longer able to move as quickly or see as well as she could in the past. However, she has unshakable faith, and this romantic belief in the value of faith is the central theme of the story. One of Bradbury’s often recurring themes is the concept of faith as opposed to reason. In “There Was an Old Woman,” Aunt Tildy uses reason to persuade the morticians to give her physical body back to her, yet faith and faith alone is that ingredient which permits her to command her dead body to return to life and have it respond. Nothing, not even death itself, can shake Aunt Tildy’s faith. The surgery that she is so proud of displaying depicts the ultimate power that faith can generate.