Themes in Raymond Carver's Literature Essay

743 Words 3 Pages
Themes in Raymond Carver's Literature


In Short Cuts, by Raymond Carver, characters experience trials and problems in their lives, whether extreme such as in " A Small, Good Thing" and "Lemonade" or nominal such as in " Vitamins". They all seem to depict these struggles as uphill battles which the characters cannot and mostly do not overcome. The characters throughout Carver's "Short Cuts" struggle through their lives in private desperation, often to ultimately realize that they are bound to the truth of who they really are, which is shown in the story "Neighbors."

In "Neighbors", Bill and Arlene Miller are a couple with menial jobs who give credence to the saying "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence". They are
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" Well, I wish it was us (14), " Jim says as he waves goodbye to his neighbors on their way to another vacation.

The Miller are asked to house sit for their neighbors. The each go into the apartment separately, trying to uncover some aspect of the Stone's lives, keeping it a secret from the other what they are doing. It is ultimately realized at the end that they are both doing more than feeding the cat when they go into the apartment.

The Miller's searching through their neighbor's apartment is symbolic of their search for meaning in their own lives. Because they are not satisfied with the way they live, they project the Stones life onto their own, to the extent of pretending to live in their apartment, if only for one moment.

Bill's fantasy of being like the Stone's may be shown by his actions of taking a bottle of Harriet's pills (14), and drinking and eating their food, with no qualms of invade his neighbors privacy (16). On page 15, Bill ""had the feeling that he left something" as he was closing the door to the Stone's apartment. It is likely that he felt he was leaving behind the false persona of who and how he wanted to live like.

After more frequent trips into the Stone's apartment, Bill begins to wear their clothing, which is also symbolic of trying to put on…