The story is told in third-person point of view and present tense. Sadie's parents died of typhoid when she was a teen. I take the story to be set around 1905 in the middle of the United States, somewhere near Arkansas. Sadie marries at about eighteen and Zachary leaves to earn some money. Sadie has albinism and after experiencing extreme loneliness she explores a cave and eventually decides to live there, giving her sod house to a young man "headed to Springfield, but a storm come up."
The theme of the story, for me, is what can make a person completely separate oneself from society. Being made to feel different or separate or freakish can make a person more comfortable living apart. Sadie didn't want to go to the Burkes' if she had trouble because, "She always looks at me like I'm a bug. I'd rather starve to death." Sadie often put on dark glasses so that people wouldn't see her eyes dart. Sadie becomes mole-like. She can't see well; she can't tolerate the sun or bright light; she feels her way, mostly. It's also nice the way the author portrays the voices Sadie hears in the cave. I think after extended periods of time without human contact, one's mind plays tricks. And, the acoustics deep in a cave would be eerie over time.
"The World by Night," by Anjali Sachdeva, is in the winter 2016/2017 issue of The Iowa Review.