Having No Control Over Life in Raymond Carver´s Jerry and Molly and Sally

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As if miming their own personal experiences, authors use various plots, characters, and literary devices to paint the lack of control a person in society has over their own life in dark contrast against their desires. By doing this, the theme of control, with the help of desire and the monotony of life, explores the authors' viewpoints of humanity’s attempt at controlling their environment. In the short story “Jerry and Molly and Sally,” Raymond Carver uses the character of Al as a way to describe and explain the frustrations and anxiety of having no control of life while being stuck in an unfortunate set of circumstances, while desperately reaching for some sort of solution or rather anything that will regain him control over his own life; through the main character, Carver could also be interpreted to give a lesson about life and control,. While in James Joyce’s “Araby,” the nameless protagonist lives through a life of absolute monotony, where he discovers he has no control or ability to change his life to the way he wants. What exactly is it that the authors are trying to say through the characters that so desperately lunge at something so far out of their reach?
Many people grab for control over their own life out of anxiety and despair of just how far their life has spiraled out of control from what they wanted. That is the case of Al in Raymond Carver’s short story, “Jerry and Molly and Sally.” Al’s life in the first place didn’t have the greatest foundation. Financially, his life was like porcelain. Keeping the family afloat depended on his job. His job by the way was “laying off ... when they should have been hiring” (Carver 122). The first source of his anxiety is this. There was nothing he could do about this situation....

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...affair existed at the moment. For once in his life, it was something that he could do something about. He may have felt anxiety over its existence, and in his own mind he couldn’t end it. Al “could not tell her the truth,” as it would cause his life to spiral further out of his control. (123). The only option is to tentatively continue the affair. In reality, Al could end the affair. It would indeed cause strife and more problems of which he does not want or really needs in his life. However, that’s not really what’s stopping him. Instead, Al feels “drugged” by this sort of lifestyle (126). Life is causing him to seek a sort of release akin to that of a substance abuse, which is exactly what Jill is. With a substance abuse, there is no way to end it cold turkey, especially to a user who desperately clings to it for a source of control or happiness they feel denied.

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