The Plutonian Fire (Henry)

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The Plutonian Fire
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Voice of the City»
Microsummary: A struggling writer discovered that he could only create a successful love story after experiencing love and heartbreak, but ultimately chose to abandon his writing career for a simpler life.

A man named Pettit moved to New York City from Alabama to pursue a career in writing fiction. He had already published several stories in Southern newspapers, but he struggled to find success in the big city. His friend, the narrator, suggested that Pettit needed to experience love in order to write a successful love story.

Pettit — narrator's friend; aspiring writer from Alabama; rugged, shame-faced cultured.
The Narrator — Pettit's friend; fellow writer; supportive, observant.

Taking his friend's advice, Pettit fell in love with a bold, open-minded New York girl. He became completely infatuated with her, but when he tried to write a love story based on his feelings, it turned out to be sentimental and unconvincing.

The New York Girl — Pettit's love interest; impudent, open-minded, with hair like Culmbacher.

Eventually, the girl broke Pettit's heart, and he turned to alcohol and cynicism to cope with his pain. After some time, Pettit met a quiet, intense girl from New Hampshire who was studying design. She fell deeply in love with him, but he only liked her mildly.

The New Hampshire Girl — intensely in love with Pettit; dark-eyed, silent, studying applied design.

When she tried to jump out of a window, he saved her by pretending to be more interested in her than he really was. This experience inspired Pettit to write a powerful love story that combined art and raw emotion.

You can't write with ink, and you can't write with your own heart's blood, but you can write with the heart's blood of some one else.

Pettit showed the story to an editor, who praised it highly. However, Pettit realized that he had used the girl's love for him as inspiration for his story, and he felt guilty for exploiting her feelings. He decided that he would rather work in his father's store in Alabama than continue to be a writer.

I'd rather sell ploughs for father.

Before leaving, he asked his friend to let him know if there was a job available for him at the store.