Chaser John Collier Analysis

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The Story Alan Austen, a young man who is passionately in love with a young woman who is indifferent to him, comes to the establishment of a mysterious old man who deals in magic potions. Austen has been told that he can buy a potion that will make the object of his affections fall madly in love with him. The old man shows little interest in the financial profit to be gained from selling Alan a love potion. Instead, he devotes most of his sales talk to recommending a potion that he calls a spot remover or a life cleaner, a powerful poison that is undetectable in an autopsy. Without ever saying so directly, the old man is suggesting that the time will inevitably come when Alan will want to murder the woman whom he now loves so desperately.…show more content…
Many of Collier's short stories deal with human wickedness. He exposes both his male and female characters as being greedy, selfish, dishonest, immoral, and sadistic. In fact, it might be said that Collier's dominant theme was human depravity. His misanthropy and pessimism would have prevented him from becoming a popular writer if he had not had the wisdom to leaven his stories with humor. Collier resembles Ambrose Bierce, whose The Devil's Dictionary (1906) cynically defines marriage as “The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two,” and love as “A temporary insanity curable by marriage or the removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder.” Collier would certainly have agreed with these definitions, as well as with most of the other definitions in Bierce's bitterly cynical book. Like Bierce, Collier made his grim philosophy palatable to the average reader by sprinkling his stories with humor, a humor that was often based on the contrast between fact and fantasy, between expectation and outcome, between illusion and reality. Like most humorists, he had a great deal of melancholy in his temperament. His humor is laughter in the dark. Style and Technique In this exceptionally short work, Collier uses a strictly objective technique. He briefly describes the two characters and the setting in the opening paragraphs, then lets his characters tell

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