On the surface, “Careful” is a simple story about a man, Lloyd, whose wife, Inez, left him because of his drinking problems. Lloyd also has problems with his hearing due to a earwax problem; however, this man has far more troubles than is on the surface. Lloyd has problems with alcohol and an inability to listen to others which cause him to become isolated from others. These problems persist throughout the novel.
“One morning [Lloyd] woke up and promptly fell to eating crumb doughnuts and drinking champagne. There'd been a time, some years back, when ye would have laughed at having a breakfast like this.” A double meaning seems to exist here. First, the reader learn that a change occurred in the protagonist that changed him fundamentally. The ...
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...emingly lost the ability to communicate with others in addition to his ability to connect to others. Carver believes that communication between individuals is essential for lasting relationships to exist – which is very true. This is why Carver stresses communication in so many of his stories: “Preservation,” “The Compartment,” “A Small Good Thing,” “Vitamins,” “Careful,” “Where I'm Calling From,” and “Cathedral.”
In the end, Meyer confirms the reader's suspicion that his condition is irreversible. “Due to a last minute change of heart, however, Meyers chooses to stay insulated in his "compartment" and, remaining on the train, reneges on his promise to the boy, walling out everything external to his selfish world, paternal obligation included” (Meyer). The way that “something caught and fell into place” (Carver, 57) symbolizes the permanence of Meyers psychosis.
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