The Pleasures of Solitude

2172 WordsDec 21, 20129 Pages
The Pleasures of Solitude by John Cheever The text under analysis is “The Pleasures of Solitude” by John Cheever. Before getting down to a close reading, the reader should bear in mind the fact that the author is a keen observer and a good psychologist; thus, shaping their understanding of the short story one should take that fact into account so as not to miss the subtleties of the characters’ portrayals and the essence of the story itself. The very first thing that the reader comes across is the title of the story that, as one can presume, performs the function of foreshadowing, at least, of two main points. First of all, the title hints that the story might be about loneliness, the state of complete alienation, and, secondly,…show more content…
The succession of such verbs of motion as “changed into a house coat and cooked the dinner”, “washed the dishes and sat down to read” explicitly present “the way she spent most of her evenings” that lacks any novelty and gayety, but is filled with pity and sadness. Another case of indirect means of characterization, to be more précised through the character’s actions, is the scene of letting two unknown boys in and treating them to candy. Although being a kind of person who seldom sympathizes with others, Ellen can not but feel pity to these two boys whom she meets on the threshold of her house one evening in nasty cold weather. This fact bears an undeniable testimony that the women does possess a kind heart, still believes in pure uncorrupted child nature. As the author states, the two boys’ shy elaborate politeness “made her want to take them in her arms”, “her mind kept returning to the boys”. That unexpected accidental meeting makes her feel the sense of worth and snatches her from that world of solitude. Starting from the first scene of her meeting the boys, the reader feels a slight change in the woman. Throughout the story there are a number of cases where the author deliberately draws a sharp contrast between that feeling of solitude and the new emotional state of the women, for instance, “it was for the first time in more than a year that she had allowed anyone … to come into her room”, “having
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