An Analysis Of Raymond Carver's 'Neighbors'

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Is it typical for an average, happy couple to fantasize and even role-play the lives of their neighbors? The answer lies within Raymond Carvers short story “Neighbors”. It is clear that Bill, a bookkeeper, and Arlene, a secretary, find their lives less exciting and are envious of their wealthy, close friends and neighbors, the Stones’. The Millers are described as an unsatisfied couple living vicariously through their neighbors as they are away on vacation. Bill and Arlene impersonate their neighbors, don’t get sexually active unless they have recently visited their neighbors apartment, and travel individually to experience their fantasy instead of fantasizing as a couple. It all began when the Stones’, the neighbors across the hall, asked…show more content…
The Miller’s only seem to connect sexually after they have fantasized and role-played as the Stones’. Not once in the short story did Raymond Carver describe any mutual attraction, until the first time Bill returned from the Stones’ apartment. Once he arrived home, Arlene asked, “What kept you?” “Nothing. Playing with Kitty,” he said, and went over to her and touched her breasts. “Let’s go to bed, honey,” he said (pg.137). Nothing is written without a reason, which is why Carver wrote this after the first time Bill began his fantasy. His audience is now aware that this was a rare occurrence and Bill came home satisfied with himself after he role-played as Harriet. This occurs again after Bill returned from the Stones’ apartment later on in the evening. “What’s been keeping you?” Arlene said. “You’ve been over here more than an hour.” “Have I really?” he said. “Yes, you have,” she said. “I had to go to the toilet,” he said. “You have your own toilet,” she said. “I couldn’t wait,” he said. “That night they made love again” (pg.138). After every visit to the Stones’ apartment, the Millers engage in sexual activity. The audience is led to believe that the Millers are not a completely happy or satisfied couple until they act in their fantasy. What’s more concerning than anything is that neither Miller offers or even considers to possibly fantasize…show more content…
This distasteful habit of envying their neighbors and living through them is very harmful towards their relationship, causing lack of self worth in themselves by impersonating their neighbors, not interacting physically unless they’ve just role-played and aren’t feeling like themselves, and going through the experience individually causing a bridge between the two. Typical average couples do not romanticize the relationships of their neighbors, only those who are envious and

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