Number 40 - Analytical Essay

881 Words Oct 12th, 2015 4 Pages
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Analytical Essay – Number 40 ‘’When she picked up the receiver, Melissa realised she didn't know Simon's number. She always just scrolled down to his name on her mobile.’’ This is how the narrator of Sarah Butler’s short story ‘’Number 40’’ describes Melissa’s loss of memory, which is chasing her throughout the story. The numerous attempts to fantasise her away from her lonely invisible everyday life culminate in the end, and she has to face the reality. These are some of the difficulties we are dealing with in the short story, through the actions and thoughts of the Melissa.

The story is told through a third person limited narrator, who follows Melissa throughout the story. The
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Simon does not psychically appear in the story, and we only know him through Melissa. He is, supposedly, Melissa’s partner, and they have bought a house in which they live. There is no dialogue between this ‘’couple’’, and the memories that Melissa describes can be considered as fabricated. It appears repeatedly in the story that Melissa thinks of Simon's colleague Emma, and feels jealous and scared: ‘’She saw Simon, walking along the other side of the street (…) And then she thought maybe he was talking to that girl — Emma or Emily. Instead of calling out to him, Melissa stayed where she was’’ (p. 4, l. 133-139). Emma might be Simons partner, and Melissa feels lonely and invisible. She admires Simon without confronting him, and thinks too deeply before moving on.
Rain is a recurring element in the story, which symbolises Melissa's loneliness. The rain has a negative influence on her, and it washes her memories away: ''She stared at her umbrella, like a fallen bird at here feet, and watched the rain make dark pools in its folds '' (p. 4 l. 132-133). The dark pools in the folds of the umbrella symbolise the black hole in her memory, and the things, which only exist in her imagination. The short story begins and ends with rain, indicating that Melissa has not come closer to Simon.

When Melissa sees Emma getting off the bus, she notices the way the umbrella is held: ‘’The girl got off to Melissa's stop, and Melissa watched here go down the

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