This from one of my more perceptive regular readers, concerning "The Mortification of the Flesh" (which I am still trying to get people to read):
It's a very subtle little story, really, in that last scene. There's a lot there between the lines. The average SOL reader is going to read it for the S & M aspect, the sex, such as it is, and will be thrilled to imagine the scene upstairs this time, and won't even notice the bitter-sweetness of the last scene.
Which is okay, because if you hit the readers over the head with it it would spoil everything. This way the ones who don't see it are happy, while the ones who do see it are really impacted by it. And both sorts still get to imagine the future upstairs.
I'm sure I'm stating the obvious here. Makes me feel like one of my old English teachers, picking apart a story to get beneath the surface.
By the way, the phrase "mortification of the flesh" is a real Catholic concept. If you Google it, you'll get a lot of hits to theological sites, and the story will be way way down on the list. I did not realize this when I chose the title. I just wanted something that sounded suitably repressive, in an ecclesiastical sort of way. My instincts turned out to be right.