In most of these 22 short fictions, the objects of Raymond Carver's close attention are men and women out of work, or between jobs, at loose ends, confused and often terrified. If they are kids, they play hooky. Husbands and wives lie beside each other in b...
Neighbors â€“ Raymond Carver
Posted on December 25, 2013 by Dermot http://sittingbee.com/neighbors-raymond-carver/
In Neighbors by Raymond Carver we have the theme of freedom, curiosity, control and voyeurism. Taken from his Will You Please Be Quiet, Please collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator. Very early on in the story the reader gets some insight into ...
Neighbors – Raymond CarverPosted on December 25, 2013 by Dermot http://sittingbee.com/neighbors-raymond-carver/In Neighbors by Raymond Carver we have the theme of freedom, curiosity, control and voyeurism. Taken from his Will You Please Be Quiet, Please collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator. Very early on in the story the reader gets some insight into one of the major themes of the story, the idea of freedom. Bill and Arlene Miller, though the reader is told that they are a happy couple, live their lives in contrast to that of their neighbours, the Stones. Jim and Harriet Stone travel a lot, due to Jim’s job and appear to enjoy themselves more than the Millers. They appear not to be confined to living their lives around their job, as much as the Millers do. There is a sense of freedom in their lives, something that the Millers also wish for.Carver continues to explore the theme of freedom (and its consequences) in fuller detail throughout the story, particularly through Bill’s character. Though both Bill and Arlene get excited by answering their curiosity about the lives of the Stones, Bill appears to go further and also seems to be more deeply aroused as he searches the Stones apartment. Bill’s sexual drive increases the more he searches the Stones apartment. If anything Bill’s exploration into the lives of the Stones takes control of his life. This becomes obvious to the reader when Bill tells Arlene to ring his job and tell them that he is unwell. The reality is that Bill’s job does not give him the same satisfaction that he appears to be getting from going into and exploring the Stones apartment. By taking the day off work, it suggests that Bill has not got complete control of his life. His desire to explore further the lives of the Stones takes precedence over his employment. Also by taking the day of work, it provides Bill with the freedom needed to explore the Stones’ apartment.How much Bill wishes to live like the Stones can be seen from his actions in their apartment. He takes some of their personal belongings that would be of no use to him, Harriet’s medication being an example. Also he makes himself comfortable in the Stones’ apartment. He drinks from their drinks cabinet and he begins to dress in both Jim and Harriet’s clothes. It is as if he believes that by changing his clothes, he will become or live the life of Jim and Harriet Stone. There are several incidents where Bill looks at himself in the mirror while he is wearing Jim’s clothes, the reader suspecting that Bill may possibly be imagining himself as Jim Stone. It is also possible that while Bill is standing, hiding behind the curtain in Harriet’s underwear, he is also imagining himself to be living Harriet’s life.While some readers would suggest that Bill goes to extremes (taking irrelevant items and dressing in women’s clothes), Arlene too has a curiosity within her that she too appears to be unable to control. Though she only goes into the Stones apartment once, she spends over an hour in the apartment and also forgets her purpose for going into the apartment (to feed the cat). Not only does Arlene search the apartment like her husband but she also lies down on the Stones’ bed, just as Bill has. The reader aware of this through the white lint that Bill notices is clinging to the back of Arlene’s sweater. It has come from the Stones’ bed.---------------------------What is also interesting about the story is that Carver neither condemns nor condones the Millers actions, he leaves judgement to the reader. He also appears to be using the narrator merely as a tool of observation, relaying the facts to the reader. It is left to the reader to decide what they think of the Millers actions. In some ways the story is an exploration into the character of human nature. The need to explore or answer our own curiosities.While the Millers have been stimulated by their attempts to live the lives of their neighbours there is also a degree of distress involved that Carver explores at the end of the story. Both Bill and Arlene are standing in the hallway and Arlene realises that she has left the key for the Stones apartment, in the apartment. Realising that both her and Bill’s actions can now be discovered, she starts to worry. As she embraces Bill in the hallway the reader realises that it is quite possible, on the Stones return, that the Stones will also get an insight into somebody else’s life, the lives of Bill and Arlene Miller.
Nobody Said Anything â€“ Raymond Carver
Posted on December 25, 2013 by Dermot http://sittingbee.com/nobody-said-anything-raymond-carver/
In Nobody Said Anything by Raymond Carver we have the theme of curiosity, conflict (both internal and external), sexuality, desire and escape. Taken from his Will You Please Be Quiet, Please collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young teen...
Nobody Said Anything – Raymond CarverPosted on December 25, 2013 by Dermot http://sittingbee.com/nobody-said-anything-raymond-carver/In Nobody Said Anything by Raymond Carver we have the theme of curiosity, conflict (both internal and external), sexuality, desire and escape. Taken from his Will You Please Be Quiet, Please collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young teenage boy called R. The story begins with R. waking up and hearing his parents arguing. Immediately the reader becomes aware of the conflict (external) in R.’s life. R. wakes his brother George, hoping he will get out of bed and say something to his parents, but George ignores R., preferring to go back to sleep. George’s actions or rather his lack of action, in trying to resolve his parent’s dispute is important as it in some ways acts as a foreshadowing device to the parents continued arguing at the end of the story.What is also interesting is that in comparison, George and R. are very different. Though we never hear George’s voice or opinion (apart from in the opening page) it doesn’t appear that he is not as affected by his parents arguing as much as R. is. This may be down to the fact that George is still a young boy, several years younger than his brother and may not be fully aware (as much as R.) of his parents constant arguing. R.’s decision to play hooky from school, on the pretense that he has an upset stomach, is also significant for several reasons. Firstly by not attending school, R. is in some ways escaping from the normal routine (it is the first day he misses since school). Another reason it is important is that R. may possibly be affected by the continued arguing of his parents and be retreating into himself.There are several instances while R is in the house waiting for his mother to go to work and just after she leaves for work that highlight the idea of escapism. George turns on the TV, even though there is no volume, it is a form of escapism, detaching him from the reality of his parents arguing. R. also starts to read one of Edgar Rice Burroughs stories, The Princess of Mars. Again R. possibly using reading, as he does the TV to escape from the realities of his parents arguing. The idea of curiosity (sexually) is also explored several times in the story. After his mother has gone to work R. goes into his parents’ bedroom to see what he can find. The readers learns the he has previously searched his parents’ bedroom for contraceptives but never found any. Also he is curious as to what the Vaseline is used for (again the idea of sexual curiosity).There are also several instances in the story whereby there is an internal conflict within R. He believes that he masturbates too much and on one occasion he swears on the bible and ‘promised and swore that I wouldn’t do it again.’ R.’s concerns about his masturbation also highlight his exploring his sexuality. He also masturbates while looking at the TV. Another instance of internal conflict is when R. gets out of the woman’s car, after getting a lift from her. He is annoyed with himself because he didn’t know what to say to her. What is also important about the incident with the woman (whereby R. fantasies that she takes him home and has sex with him), is that it shows the reader his desire to sleep with her.The incident of R. trying to catch the fish with the younger boy is also significant as it is through their actions that the reader can see not only conflict (arguing over who should have which half of the fish) but also resolution. The idea of resolution is seen twice between R. and the younger boy. Firstly they agree to carry the fish on a stick, each holding an end of the stick, however there is still some suspicion within R., over whether the boy will cycle away with the fish. Also they resolve the matter of who will take what part of the fish. R. telling the boy that whoever takes the tail end, can also have the green trout that he caught.R.’s ability to resolve issues is also at the end of the story, though is not as successful as his resolution with the younger boy. He arrives home to hear his parents arguing (conflict again). What is interesting about them arguing is that they are not arguing about, where is R. (though he did leave a note). They appear to be arguing over whether or not R.’s father has been with other women. In an effort to diffuse the situation R. opens the kitchen door and shows his mother the fish in the creel. She is outraged, thinking it to be a snake and tells him to take it out of the kitchen. What happens next is surprising because we see common agreement between R.’s parents, his father also tells him to take the fish out of the house. This is the only occasion in the story in which both of R.’s parents seem to agree with each other.The ending of the story is also significant as it is while R. is outside the house holding the fish that the reader realizes that in some ways R.’s parents are treating R. just like the fish. His father having told him ‘Take it the hell out of the kitchen and throw it in the goddamn garbage.’ By having R. holding the fish at the end, Carver succeeds in not only putting the focus on the fish, but on R. himself. And ironically R. is sitting underneath the porch light (light shining on him and the fish).