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It Isn't Possible For Every Individual To Find Redemption

1496 words - 6 pages

It isn't possible for every individual to find redemption. In Cheever's Five Forty Eight

It isn't always possible for a person who is as emotionally numb as Blake is in the Cheever story, The Five Forty Eight to find redemption in his world of unhappiness, not even when it is staring him right in the face. Blake avoids confrontation and honest expressions of his feelings at all costs by ignoring things and people in his life who stimulate emotions. Is this a result of his self-involvement?

There are two women in Cheever's story. One is an ex-lover; the other is his wife. One night when Blake stepped out of the elevator from his office building he was surprised to find his ex-lover waiting in the lobby. "Her face took on a look of such loathing and purpose that he realized she had been waiting for him" (551). However, Blake did not acknowledge her, he just kept on walking. Blake had no feelings for her, he didn't have feeling for anyone, caring only about himself and his schedule for his commuter train, the 5:18 p.m. express. By the time Blake was sure that she was following him he began to get worried, but was immediately distracted by the rain and the worries of catching a cold. His selfishness took priority over the woman. This was a woman who, ironically, he has taken to bed. He cannot, however; quite remember her name. Besides Blake felt they had nothing to say to one another.

The setting of the story adds to the reader's discomfort. Cheever illustrates Blake's internal lack of harmony through descriptiona of weather, clothing, and the environment of the train. The story took place during rush hour: an anxious hectic event of the day. The streets are crowded with people, the rain is pouring down; it's a dreary day. As Blake was walking through the city trying to escape Miss Dent he stopped to look in a store window.

"The suddenness with which he moved when he saw the reflection of her face tipped the water out of his hat brim in such a way that some of it ran down his neck. It felt unpleasantly like the sweat of fear. Then the cold water falling into his face and onto his bare hands, the rancid smell of the wet gutters and paving, the knowledge that his feet were beginning to get wet and that he might catch cold-all the common discomforts in the rain-seemed to heighten the menace of his pursuer and to give him a morbid consciousness of his own physicalness and of the ease of which he could be hurt" (551).

This scene reinforces the sullen and depressing mood. In addition, it foreshadows the icy chill Blake will feel when he witnesses this woman later pull a gun on him. However, our unobservant protagonist Blake pays no heed to the woman who is following him with purpose. When Miss Dent was standing right in front of him he had the perfect chance to ask her what she wanted, but being the ignorant man Blake is, he continued on his path to perceived safety.

When Blake finally realizes that his life is in danger, he...

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