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Critical Analysis Of Raymond Carver's "Neighbors"

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All We Really Need in Life is Each Other

Raymond Carver’s “Neighbors” is a moral based story. In the beginning of their marriage Bill and Arlene were very content with one another’s companionship, but now they live in envy of their neighbors, Harriet and Jim. It seemed to the Millers that the Stones live a much more fulfilling life. When Harriet and Jim are away on business/vacation trip they would entrust Bill and Arlene to feed Kitty, water the plants, and look after their apartment. The Miller’s behavior in the apartment becomes very odd and inappropriate when they almost try to live the Stone’s lives throw their possessions. The most important concept about this story is that people are bored with what they have and desperately want what they don’t have. Carver brings this idea to life by comparing how the main characters Bill and Arlene Miller view their lives to their neighbors Harriet and Jim Stone. The setting of the story influences the characters by giving them a sense of comfort behind the apartment’s locked door, causing them to throw all ambitions out the window and act out of the norm.

The first example of the setting causing unusual actions is with Bill Miller. He goes to the apartment first. As Bill fulfilled his neighborly duties he would snoop through Harriet and Jim’s precious belongings and imagine himself as if their apartment was his world. “He reached in the back (of the liquor cabinet) for the bottle of Chivas Regal. He took two drinks from the bottle, wiped his lips on his sleeve, and replaced the bottle in the cabinet”(70) If Bill were to enter the apartment with the door open or with someone else or of course if the Stone’s were actually present, I’m sure he would not just help himself to a drink. Each time Bill entered the Stones home the temptation of being something he wasn’t got the better of him, and he would exhibit strange and unusual behaviors, even wearing the Stone’s clothing, including Harriet’s. “He rummaged through the top drawers until he found a pair of panties and a brassiere. He stepped into the panties and fastened the brassiere, then looked through the closet for an outfit.”(72) When he would finish prowling around Bill would quietly return home but he always would leave with a feeling of satisfaction and excitement.

Arlene, much like her husband, had a venturous time in the Stones home as well. “Maybe it was all about the excitement of trying on a new and more interesting identity.”(73) This is the second example as



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