The Cookie Lady Summary, Theme, Critical Appreciation by Philip K. Dick
The Cookie Lady Summary
The story “The Cookie Lady” by Philip Kindred Dick (Philip K. Dick) was published in the year 1953 in Fantasy Fiction magazine. It is a tale of chilling horror. In this story, a young boy named Bernard Surle, loving called Bubber often visited an old lady Mrs. Drew, who baked his favourite cookies for him to relish.
Bubber goes to the old lady to satisfy his cravings for his favourite food and often carries books with him to read before the lady and break her monotonous desolate life. Mrs. Drew, though appeared to be a very kind lady with a grandmother touch in her. has different intention regarding Bubber. She makes the most of the given opportunity to feel the touch of youth in Bubber’s company.
Bubber often visit to this old lady’s house is quite disregarding to his parents. His friend also mocked him for his visit. At last his parent forbade him to visit the old lady. In his last visit, the readers became aware that Mrs. Drew while touching the young arm of the boy, experienced sudden transformation into robust, glowing lady with thick black hair and perfectly fleshy body. She has drained all his youth from chubby Bubber and the boy turned into a bundle of trash blown away by the wind.
The Cookie Lady About the Author Philip K. Dick
Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American science fiction writer. He wrote 44 novels and about 121 short stories most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime.
His fiction explored varied philosophical and social questions such as the nature of reality, perception, human nature, identity and commonly featured characters struggling against elements such as alternate realities, illusory environment, monopolistic corporations, drug abuse, authoritarian government and altered state of consciousness.
Born in Chicago, Dick moved to the San Francisco Bay area with his family at a young age. He began publishing science fiction stories in 1952 at age of 23. He found little commercial success until his alternative history novel “The Man in the High Castle (1962) earned him acclaim, including a Huge Award for Best Novel, when he was 33. His notable science fictions are “Do Androids Dream of
Electric Sheep?” (1968) and Ubik (1969). His novel ‘Flow My Tears” (1974) and “The Policeman Said” won the John. W Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. First published in Fantasy Fiction (July, 1953), “The Cookie Lady” is a story of terror, chilling and memorable incident. It narrates the tale of a chubby teenager boy called ‘Bubber’ who is fond of cookies, pay visit to the house of his neighbour old Mrs. Drew. The old lady bakes cookies for the boy and Bubber enjoys them.
Slowly his health gets detonated, as he was not aware that the cookie lady has an agenda, she is not as kindly, lady as she seems to be. In a chilling manner the apparent kind, old lady who feeds Bubber cookies steals his life force. We get a hint in the story that she has done this before and that Bubber is one of the many children she has treated in this manner.
The story is remarkable for the manner in which the atmosphere builds up. The security that the reader is belled into at the beginning of the story is slowly and inexorably chipped away as it is replaced by a growing unease which changes to terror.
The Cookie Lady Theme
The story is horror in genre and the author does not bring out some specific theme or moral lessons. The author excellently creates an atmosphere of suspense, fear and abnormality and absurdity. He focuses on inter personal relationship which have both good and bad influences on human being.
One strong point is conspicuous in the story-temptation leads to death. Craving for anything can be disastrous and unhealthy as we find in the case of Bubber who failed to resist his temptation of tasty cookies baked by an old strange lady. Bubber was quite obese and over eating was harmful for his health. Another theme or point is human exploitation.
Bubber uses Mrs. Drew to satisfy his gread for cookies, likewise Mrs. Drew exploits Bubber by draining his youth from him and transforming herself into a young lady filled with vitality and good physique. She appears to be like a witch capable of doing inhumane or even super abnormal actions.
The theme also focuses on the responsibility of parents in guiding their children. Both parent where not bothered where their son was going and with whom, developing company. The boy falls into the trap of an unethical lady who, under the pretext of providing him cookies- his favourite food, exploits his youth and draws in vitality turning him into dry debris blow by the winds.
The Cookie Lady Critical Appreciation
The story “The Cookie Lady” is an interesting heart-touching story of a young boy paying frequent visit to the house of strange old lady in his neighbourhood. The old lady as mentioned Mrs. Drew cast charms on him by baking his favourite cookies and serving the baked ones with cold milk. The story is set in a dystopian world of exploitation, selfishness and greediness having no feeling of sympathy and everyone only aim in life is to take advantage of others in an unethical manner.
The strange old lady like a witch satisfies the young lad’s irresistable craving for baked cookies and in return sucks from him, his youth and vitality and transforms herself into young lady of thirty. The boy being exploitated reduces to just a bundle of trash is quite symbolical. Extreme exploitation leads to death or destruction and makes the being extinct.
The characters of Mrs. Drew and Bubber have been beautifully sketched with distinct traits. The cookie lady Mrs. Drew is old, strange selfish and possessed enchanting powers to draw out from Bubber his youth and energy. Bernade Surie popularly regarded as Bubber is obese and innocent young lad with full of energy and vitality.
Both his parents have superficial concern for their son, without getting fully involved in his welfare. The style is plain and lucid and Mrs. Drew is described lyrically. Over-exploitation reduced the young boy into bundle of trash has been described very casually. All this make the story a chill horror story which leads us into the world of fantasy and imaginations.
The Cookie Lady Characters
Bernard Surie (Bubber):
Bernard Surie, only son of Raif Surie (father) and May Surie (mother) had irresistable greed for coolies. He was a young obese teen lovingly called Bubber and cookies was restricted from his diet. The small fresh baked cookies, or sight of woman drinking big chocolate soda, brought water to his mouth cold milk served with freshly baked cookies was his utmost favourite.
A neighbouring old strange lady made cookies for him and he paid visit to her house after school to enjoy her cookies filled with nuts and raisins. He provided the lonely lady with comforting company and read his books to reduce boredom in that old lady’s life.
The innocence of the boy Bubber rouses feelings of pity in the mind of the readers. The craving for cookies should not have been taken as too great a flaw to reduce him to a trash blown away by the strong winds. He becomes the victim of exploitation at the hands of the vicious society abusing person or taking advantage of one’s innocence. Bubber is the icon of capitalistic setup that steals the youth of the children working for their need.
Denied of his craving and right guidance and affection of parents, the young teen fall a prey easily and get trapped by the ruthless people like Mrs. Drew who reduced Bubber to nothing – a strand of debris by providing him cookies and satisfying his greed for it.
Mrs. Drew is a strange old lady who resided in a shabby old house in Bubber’s neighbourhood. Her role in this story is like a witch who scruplously uses any person to her advantage. Like the vampire sucks blood from innocent people in the same manner this fiendish lady suck youth and vitality of a chubby, obsese teen named Bubber.
In the story she resided in a dull grey house with dried up weeds growing in front of her house. She had a rocking chair which was placed on the porch. Mrs. Drew was perfect in baking cookies to tempt young children – as we have seen Bubber.
Who was drawn towards her for his favourite cookies filled with nuts and raisins in then. As she served the boy with cookies she herself sat beside him and watched him closely. She intructed the boy to read his book loudly meanwhile she used to watch the boy with her vicious eyes and suck vitality and youth from him. She felt her inner transformation where her wrinkles fades away, her hair turns black and volume returns. She felt her youthfulness was again returning to her.
She insisted Bubber to visit her again. Bubber in turn felt tired and exhausted after his visit to the lady. She is really a remorseless and self-centred lady. During Bubber’s last visit she touches his arm gently, she experienced a throb, a pulsation and youthful vibration in her body. She felt getting rejuvenated once again. She finds her bosom swelling and becoming firm, hips protruding, her lips getting redder, hair thick and dark. All good things were happening to her only. She felt elated.
The magic of transformation has worked. She watches her youthful image in her mirror and plunges into the both tub to adern her beauty whereas. Bubber, the chubby obese teen leaves her tired and exhausted with no life in him. All his youth strength disappears and readers get terrified at the ends where Bubber is no where found only a bundle of trash blown away by the winds, strikes his own house.
The Cookie Lady Title of the Story
The title of Philip K. Dick’s short story “The Cookie Lady” is quite relevant and appropriate. The story centres round Mrs. Drew who bakes cookies for a young lad named ‘Bubber’. Mrs Drew is quite old and strange lady who lives a solitary life in his shabby grey house. The lady’s personality draw Bubber toward her as she satisfies Bubber irresistable craving for baked cookies. But later reader gets acquainted with the real intention of the lady.
Like a witch or sorceress she charms Bubber with her tempting cookies. As her name suggests, Mrs. Drew – drews all the youthfulness of the young boy and transform herself into a lady of thirties. The story is built on the influence exercised by her on the innocent lad who visit her to satisfy his craving desire for cookies. So, the title of the story “The Cookie Lady” is quite convincing, appropriate and suggestive.
The Cookie Lady Setting
The setting of the story “The Cookie Lady” focuses middle class family where parents are quite pre occupied with their own work and forget to pay attention to their children – who are misled and gets victimized easily by unscrupulous, evil minded people. The setting of the story is thus a dystopian world of exploitation, selfishness and greed.
The helpful old lady who baked cookies for the young lad Bubber like a witch steal away the youthhood and ‘vitality from the boy. She transforms into a lady of thirties whereas the boy is reduced to just a bundle of trash and is blown away by the wind.
The Cookie Lady Style
The story “The Cookie Lady” is written in a distinct style. The author Philip K. Dick writes clearly and lucidly and is a master of realistic dialogues. The author follows a cool, chilling sensible style to represent horrifying alienation in a way that makes the reader feel sympathetic at the end. The story narrates how a young boy at the touch of a strange old lady has been deprived of all youthfulness and reducing into a trash being blown by the winds.
The old lady transform into a young lady quite unremorsefully about her misdeeds. The story ends with a brief conversation between the parents of the boys and their failure to recognise their own child-who was the victim of enploitation, selfishness and greed.
The Cookie Lady Plot Of The Story
Bernard Surie Bubber had great craving for the cookies,that temptation forced him to visit a strange lady of his neighbourhood – Mrs. Drew
Bubber’s closeness and presence gives an exciting experience to the lady. Whereas, Bubber feels tired and exhausted after visiting her.
Bubber’s last meeting blows him off into a bundle of trash whereas Mrs. Drew grows young again after sucking youthhood from Bubber.
The plot of the story is linear and mentioned in a chronological order. It centres round a young boy’s craving for the cookies which his parents have denied him. Unable to control his temptation the young boy visits a strange old lady of his neighbourhood, who bakes delicious cookies for him filled with nuts and raisins. The story at first presents a grandmotherly affection for young kids but slowly the twist in the story appears.
Her desolate shabby house with old rocking chair and dry weeds garden in front of the house prepares the ground for abnormal tidings to come. The interaction of the boy with that old lady creates conflict in the story. We find the lady having feeling of youngness in the lad’s company. On the other side the lad is feeling exhausted and extreme tired. The end portion of the story brings the conflict where we witness the strange old lady, in a magical, conjouring manner gets transformed into her youth – a lady of thirty.
But what happens to the young chubby lad Bubber-give the reader a sheer shock. They lady using cookies as her bait, steals youth from Bubber transforming him into a bundle of debris blown by the strong winds. The reader’s mind is filled with chill terror and is left dazed and perplexed lost in the world of fantasy and imagination where anything is possible.
The Cookie Lady Annotations and Vocabulary
shabby — dull looking
sagging — bulging
rickety — weak, not very strongly made or maintained
thudding — beating heavily
plop — fall
at random — with rational thinking or deciding in advance
wobbling — moving from side to side and not very steady
droned on — spoke for a long time in dull voice without creating any interest
cookies — baked biscuits like eatables.
fragile — thin, weak
wispy — slender or thin
melted — marked with spots of variant colours
plump — round and fat, healthy
tottered — moved unsteadily
listlessly — spiritlessly
hanging around — spending time aimlessly
banister — handrail of staircase
padded — walked quietly
anguish — distrust, great mental pain
monotonously — in a drab boring manner
pulsating — throbbing
pliant — pleable
throaty — rough and deep voice
sap — juice (used particularly in plants)
trudged — walked with heavy steps
screeched — shouted with an unpleasant sound
licking — whipping