At first, I was put off by her narrator. He seemed stuffy and dated. Then I read this: "Be dissatisfied with your work!" I didn't know it yet, but Ms. Wharton's narrator had pulled me into the story, placed me at the side of the deceased artist, Stroud, and put me in the same position as the failed artist, Jack Gisburn. His confession made me stay.
I read the entire story feeling as if it had been written for my benefit, so the heartfelt confession of the artist caused me to wonder if I'd know when I was unable to paint the question on the face of a character. Had I stumbled on this short story to guide me to my own "next greatest thing"? Was I being given the grace to see that I lacked the necessary talent? I hope not. I'm not ready to say that I cannot do "a great thing" and paint my characters with the requisite questions. For me, it comes back to the need for giving birth to characters cell by cell so they are real enough that I can see their breath as they walk outside on a cold morning and create the scene in enough detail that it becomes three dimensional for readers. If I were not meant to write, would I spend time writing an essay about The Verdict when I could have done anything else with my free time?