“No One’s a Mystery”
Jessica Ulrich Essay 2 Intro to Literature The story I am completing and analyzing is “No One’s a Mystery” by Elizabeth Tallent. “No One’s a Mystery” is a brief, sharply detailed distillation of a doomed relationship between two people of contrasting personalities. The question I ask is who the characters are, and what parts of the story lead me to deem and back up my feelings about that certain character.
To start off I feel that Jack is a hard one to analyze while reading it in a critical way.
This is what I picked up on him Jack being a very cynical man who drinks heavily, doesn’t clean his truck, and has no obvious respect for women (Mexomorph). Jack and his young lover not only come to terms with their relationship but also illuminate aspects of their own characters of which they themselves are not fully aware. The story is more of a character sketch than a traditional tale containing a beginning, middle, and an end. The sequence of events is less important than the specific detail and the dialogue between the couple. Esch, 2009) He is currently cheating on his wife with a barely-legal girl he has been having an affair with since she was sixteen. I think he is a man who doesn’t know what he wants. In the story when she is talking about marrying him and having his children down the road, he doesn’t seem to be much for it at least not as much as her. I think he really feels bad for what he is doing but he is caught up in the moment of the relationship and how easy it is, but doesn’t think through the consequences.
I think he drinks so much to forget about what he is doing to his wife and he knows it is wrong, so drinking helps him cope with the last 2 years of having an affair, and soon to be a divorce that he states at the end of the story. He also seems to very demeaning towards women and it seems as if again he is not happy with his life he has lead on. Another thing is when he talks about his wife feeling safer when the lights are on when he’s not home makes me think he still cares for her and is fine talking about her with his secret relationship in which she has no problem with him talking about.
So again Jack is a hard one to understand but I think I got the gist of it. Aside from these generalities, he makes no judgments and demands no commitment, even mocking the narrator’s version of their future together. His remark that the sky is empty carries a double meaning: In the context of the dialogue, Jack is referring to the absence of aircraft monitoring the speed of traffic, but in the light of his own character, it is a statement of unbelief, of detachment from social, emotional, and moral values.
The young narrator, by contrast, has already acquired a set of values that make her a more sympathetic character. Her sharp eye for detail, her specific observations, lend her a solidity, a steadiness of purpose that is missing in Jack’s life With all of this information I have gathered on the next character I would like to analyze would be the eighteen year old girl who is dating Jack. This eighteen year old girl seems to be very in love with Jack. She is planning their lives together with marriage and children.
I feel that her character is an unsure about herself, or she hasn’t felt real love before and that’s why dating a married man and have it feel ok for her. Even though it doesn’t state much about their feelings on the relationships in the story I think it comes out the words they use within their conversation. The narrator counters to the contrary she will always love Jack. This exchange has some hidden meanings. The author is trying to show the reader that Jack knows they will not be together a year from then.
The author is also trying to show the innocence and naivete of the girl in comparison to the knowledge of Jack. This diary encounter again brings out an emotional response in the reader by its imagery. When Jack mentions about how his wife leaves the light on in the house because it helps her feel safer, it seems as if it doesn’t bother her talking about his wife, or having her duck in the truck when his wife passes alongside the road just so they don’t get caught. You think that would bug her with having to consistently hide from her especially since she is wanting and fantasizing about marrying him at age eighteen.
I think she is deprived from having a relationship that can go to movies, dinner, hold hands in public, and been seen and known as a couple, and I think she feels some hurt due to the fact she knows it will never happen because when she talks about a year from now writing in her diary ” I wonder what I really saw in Jack”, ” I wonder why I spend so many day just riding in his truck”, or writing “I wonder what that old guys name was”. She states that she writes that but she will write “I love Jack and this diary is my birthday present from him. “I can’t imagine anybody loving anybody more than I love Jack. ” So she goes back and forth of what she is feeling and what can happen in the future. She talks about not knowing Jack in a year but then also talks about having his kid and waiting for him to come home to make love to him. It was a very confusing ending with her and her feelings, very hard to read and interpret. I did get thought that both of them are caught up in the moment. That is what I felt the characters where, and what parts of the story lead me to deem and back up my feelings about that certain character.
The visual and verbal images of this work are the key elements. The characters are not round characters but rather flat and stereotypical as the title No One’s A Mystery suggests (Esch, 2009). But the way the characters are used, the straightforwardness of language and setting are meant to bring the reader to an emotional edge. The filthiness of the truck, the youth of the narrator and the exchange between Jack and the girl over the diary help to reinforce the negative emotional response that the author was looking for.
I wish this story was a little bit longer so it could help explain things that I thought had double meaning, but I like making up my own real end to the story and how I want to think of how those two ended up in a year. Works Cited Esch, J. (2009, Dec 4). Notearama. Retrieved from Notearama: http://notearama. blogspot. com/2009/12/on-no-ones-mystery-by-elizabeth-tallent. html Mexomorph. (n. d. ). Write Work. Retrieved from Write Work: http://www. writework. com/essay/no-one-s-mystery-elizabeth-tallent-english-1302-literature