Category: Analysis

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Bill and Arlene Miller

The short story Neighbors by Raymond Carver revolves around the life of a married couple. Bill and Arlene Miller are the couple, who were entrusted by Stone’s to take care of a family apartment. There are citations in this short story about the negative perception of people when envy gets the better of us. If we are to analyze the content of this story we will notice that it is fact-driven. Most of the situations that were provided are the occurrences that take place in our daily life. Carver aims to open the eyes of the readers on the matters that we are facing in a day to day basis. The conflict that Bill and Arlene faced happens to anybody at no given time. We are unaware of our behaviour when we feel emotionally, mentally inadequate. This is a manifestation of envious people who tries to escape from reality to forget the predicaments that they have even just for a split moment. There was a part in the story wherein Bill and Arlene took advantage of the long business trip of the Stone family by exploiting the apartments when they were away. The Millers did things which are in contrast to the moral values that we teach to our children. Searching in somebody else’s closet and trying their clothes on are actions of children or ignorant people; those were some of the misconducts committed by the Millers. The curiosity of the couple is a perfect example of living a life without boundaries. Behind the doors of the Stone’s apartment, they felt like they are travelling to another dimension, they perceive the possessions in the apartment as if it is their own. They even broke bread and drank inside the house. Respect did not become a factor in their action because all they care about is to fill up the lacking of their life thru the exploitation that they done to the possessions of their trustful neighbours. The author did not make the short story complicated for the readers. He used minimized the complexity of it by using easy statements and words.

After I read the Neighbors by Raymond Carver, I felt like it changed me and made me a better person. I have this assertion though I did not personally experience the situation of the Millers. It just gave me a picture of what could possibly happen if someone close to me will be placed in to the same situation. Momentarily, I felt embarrassed for the misconducts of the Millers but I realized that it could potentially happen to someone, especially to those who are not as blessed as the few who can enjoy a luxurious life. There could be no hesitation in that person’s mind to exploit the possessions of a person who entrusted them to take care of their investments. I felt guilty because of the perception that has been establish in my mind for a moment because we aren’t suppose to embarrass those people, perhaps we have to feel sorry for them because of the insufficiencies of their life. Maybe, subconsciously the Millers felt guilty for their action. That remains a question because that part was not expounded in the short story.

Views on this Short Story

We may have different views on this short story but one thing is for sure Sir Raymond Carver found a way to deliver his message to all of us by projecting an unbiased narration of the chronology of Bill and Arlene Miller’s life and the effect of the temptation to their humanity. I just want to mention some of what I think are strengths and weaknesses of this short story. As I have mention earlier the author came up with a brilliant concept which is an eye-opener for those people who are practicing the same misconduct unintentionally. He also made clear that the comparison of the life of the Miller and Stone was way out of base. The extraction about the basis of Bill in comparing his life to his neighbour could have had a better elaboration for the sake of intensive learning. I think Raymond Carver concentrated on the action of the married couple because the introduction about the main characters are quite vague though there are some points where he tries to highlight subtle information about the life of the couple prior to their marriage it seems that the introduction is not ample to give us a background of what they are before they shared their vows to each other. I am unsure if that is part of the technique of Sir Raymond Carver to allow the readers to do our own thinking and/or make up our own picture about the biography of the couple.

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I want to emphasize that my opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of the short story does not intend to degrade the craftsmanship of the author. It is just my perspective about the subject matter. My conclusion for the short story is plain and simple. We might not have everything in life but I am sure that we possess something that anybody does not have. For Bill’s instance, he has Arlene by his side and that is something that he can be assertive about. In reality many of us are not familiar with the word contentment. This is why we urge to possess things that we don’t have, there is nothing wrong with it if we could just set a boundary and let us not forget our limitations.

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