Goodbye and Good Luck: Summary, Plot Analysis, Review

the words "goodbye and good luck grace paley" written next to a picture of grace paley

Goodbye and Goodluck is a short story written by Grace Paley that was published in her collection called The Little Disturbances of Man by Doubleday in 1959. One of the more known stories from her collection, this story is a heartwarming tale of a woman in pursuit of love and her struggles with tradition in her journey to attaining it.

Goodbye and Good Luck: Summary and Plot Analysis

The story opens with Rosie Lieber telling Lillie, her niece, a story about her youth. Rosie used to be an overweight, clear thinking and kind woman in her youth.

She used to work in a novelty wear shop and had lost her job once speaking her mind.

The next job that she applied for, was one where they needed a refined young lady in a cultural organization. She responded and got the job shortly.

The job gave her, in addition to a weekly salary of nine dollars, a free ticket every week and opportunity to watch rehearsals as many times as she wanted.

She settles in her job quickly. The theatre manager, Mr Krimberg introduces her to one of the actors, shortly after.

Volodya Vlashkin, also known as the Valentino of Second avenue, soon got into a blossoming friendship with Rosie.

Rosie watched and praised Vlashkin for his theater performances and Vlashkin, finding a comfortable companionship with Rosie, continues to show interest in her. The attention that she continued to receive from him baffled her at times.

She receives a raise as a result of him putting in a good word for her. In addition, she also got to be part of a crowd scene at fifty cents a night.

Vlaskhin finds an apartment for her close to the theater and that is when Rosie informs her mother of this, and kisses her Mama goodbye.

She professes her love for him in front of her mother, who is disgusted by Rosie’s blatant disregard for tradition. She calls Rosie a rotten hole in a piece of cheese and cries relentlessly.

In the years that followed, Rosie got to know many people, most of them admiring her for her youth and terrific listening skills. She gets to know that Vlashkin is a married man with a family-wife and kids, the whole package.

She confronts him about it and Vlashkin comes clean. She accepts it to be true and convinces Rosie that it is with her that he is really happy. Rosie is convinced, until one day where she gets to see Mrs. Vlashkin.

Feeling guilty to be a home breaker, she confronts Vlashkin again and removes herself from his life. She continues on with her life – meeting different men, but finding none of them interesting enough.

Meanwhile, Vlashkin toured abroad for a few years and even wrote a book about his experiences. In a chance meeting with Vlashkin on the street, she congratulates him for his success. They continue to be friendly and supportive of each other.

Many years pass by, the theater closes and she gets a buzz on the phone. Vlashkin has called  to inform her about his divorce and that now he was a free man. Feeling insulted by the idea of accompanying Vlashkin only as a mistress, she proposes that they marry. Vlashkin agrees.

The story ends with Rosie telling Lillie that she needs to leave soon as she will be late for her wedding and asks her to tell her mama – Goodbye and Good luck.

Goodbye and Good Luck: Review and My Thoughts

The story revolves around Rosie’s love for Vlashkin and her struggle balancing her love with tradition and her desire for independence.

She follows tradition, no questions asked, until she meets Vlashkin.

She finds it difficult to follow tradition when doing that comes at the cost of proximity to him. Throughout the story, Paley has demonstrated this. 

Consider this example from one of Rosie’s dates.

Why do you hide your young throat. These are not old times, my child, to live in shame.

Who’s ashamed? I said taking off the kerchief, but my hand right away went to take the kerchief’s place, because the truth is, it really was old times, and I was still of the nature to melt with shame.

And one where she sadly kisses her mom Goodbye to live a ‘life of love’.

This is a different way of living Mama. Besides, I am driven by love.

Her love for Vlashkin is not the only thing that is exceptional about Rosie. I love how she faces her problems head on and has such a positive disposition and a very healthy sense of self respect. 

Upon receiving a comment from the theater manager about her burly figure, instead of questioning her own self worth, she responds in good humor (Everyone likes kindness.)

Rosie Leiber , you got a build on you.

It takes all kinds, Mr Krimberg.

Her human fears make Rosie all the more likeable. Consider, for example, her fear of not being able to live a life of companionship.

This is your lonesome bed. A lady who they call fat and fifty. You made it personally. From this lonesome bed , you will fall to a bed not as lonesome,only crowded with a million bones.

I was personally happy when Rosie tells Lillie that she is going to be wed?

And that’s the power of Grace Paley.

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