Jo, Jim and the narrator are riding horses. Then they stop at a store where Jim went four years ago, joking that a blue-eyed blonde lives there. There they are greeted by a woman who appears to be mentally unstable. They get an embrocation from the store to treat a wound on the horse. They ask her if they can stay in the nearby field. At first she declines. Then she agrees. She later suggests giving them dinner and she eventually lets them stay for the night in the store. Jo and Jim joke about the woman referring to how she knows “how to kiss in one hundred and twenty-five different ways”.
The narrator bathes in the river.
They discover that the woman has attempted to make herself look pretty by putting on rouge and a different dress. Jo has combed back his hair and shaved. They start to get drunk and Jo and the woman start “kissing feet” under the table, slowly growing closer as they get more intoxicated. The woman's daughter claims to be drawing a nude picture of the narrator, saying she watched her bathing earlier.
As she gets more drunk, the woman reveals that her husband often beats her, forces sex on her, goes away often shearing for months at a time and that she is alone and isolated living in poverty. She then leaves and comes back and then goes off again. Her daughter threatens to draw the picture she does not allow.
Jim and the narrator stay in the store-room with the woman's daughter. She then does a drawing of a woman pointing a gun at a man and a picture of a grave, intimating that her mother killed her father. Jim and the narrator see the drawing, stay up all night in shock and then leave in the morning without Jo who has spent the night in the woman's bed. Faced with the unfavorable situation and the miserable destiny in the patriarchal society, the female fight and struggle but in vain, as the society imposes on them all kinds of hardships. And a sense of loneliness follows.
Jo, Jim and the narrator are riding horses. Then they stop at a store. There they are greeted by a woman who appears to be mentally unstable. According to her own statement, she was a barmaid until she got married. After the first child was born her husband started beating her, as implied by the loss of her two front teeth (when she was previously described as beautiful) and her accusation that he caused her four miscarriages. She has suffered from emotional and physical abuse by her husband who she claims "spoilt" and 'stole' her beauty, youth and innocence. She justifies why she killed her husband though she does not confess it.
The woman has a young daughter. She has been neglected by her mother, and is disliked by the other three characters. She likes drawing, and is a generally unruly child. She is also distressed at having to live with her insane mother who killed her father. The short story has fully demonstrated how the female is left too much alone both physically and psychologically in the patriarchal society.
Virginia Woolf once described Katherine Mansfield as "of the cat kind, alien, composed, always solitary and observant."
- The Woman at the Store