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The Five Forty Eight Essay

1221 words - 5 pages

In the short story, "The Five-Forty-Eight" written by John Cheever, we are introduced to two characters that have had a brief personal relationship with each other and to the consequences that follow for one of them. Mr. Blake happens to be the fellow that is being put on trial and is judged accordingly. His persona is defoliated until the truth rings out like a blow horn. The beast within him begs for a swift end. As the story unfolds, we are made aware of the fact that a strange woman is following Mr. Blake. At this point the author has given us little about the man and his personality. With this in mind, the reader is positioned to take a defensive approach to Blake. He is the victim. Why is this woman following him? What does she want with him? He is scared for his life. It is amazing to think that she can harm him in such a way that he would regret it for the rest of his life. Not until later do we discover that he took advantage of this woman and her defenselessness. Or so he thought. It is apparent by now that she wasn't the only one that he took advantage of. The following sentence suggests that there were many others before her. "Most of the many women he had known had been picked for their lack of self-esteem." It is clear that "picked" has a double meaning in this place. To fill a secretary's position was a mere masquerade, compared to the real reason of quenching his personal desires and victories. Because of his overconfidence, he underestimated Miss Dent. How could someone so young and frail do anything to harm a man like him? Now we begin to see a dark side of him. The words in the story begin to paint a picture of a man we are about to know a little better: "He was a slender man with brown hair - undistinguishable in every way, unless you could have divined in his pallor or his gray eyes his unpleasant tastes." We see throughout the story a feeling of arrogance and triumph about Mr. Blake. A triumph in the sense that he was able to outwit the woman that was following him. He made it to the "five-forty-eight" and no sign of her anywhere. His perception of himself is also of high value and stature despite his outward appearance. "He dressed - like the rest of us - as if he admitted the existence of sumptuary laws." "Except for the few bright threads in his necktie, there was a scrupulous lack of color in his clothing that seemed protective." It is therefore assumed that he tried not to attract any attention to himself but instead, to blend in with the rest of us. Kind of like a wolf in sheep's clothing. He also had a knack for judging everything and everyone. It seemed like all things around him disgusted him. Nothing was pleasant or tasteful. Mr. Watkins' appearance and demeanor appalled him. He did not meet the criteria - Blake's criteria. Louise Blake was an unexpected surprise and a twist in the story as well. There was definitely something wrong with Mr. Blake. He was a married man - an unhappy...

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