“The Five-Forty-Eight” Short Story Written by John Cheever
Cheever organizes the story by coordinating it for a pleasant and effective result by using prose and suspense. At the beginning of the narrative, Cheever builds suspense with the description of how he spotted he spotted his follower. The fact that neither character in the story is known to us builds internal conflict. The reader is left wondering why the main character is being followed and the circumstances surrounding it. Additionally, Cheever uses the personal expression in bringing out the character’s inner thoughts. This can be implied in instances where Blake is seen to be thinking aloud as he fears for his predicament as Miss Dent follows him closely. This has the effect of building up the plot of the story in the reader’s mind.
The Cheever uses a combination of events in giving the exposition of the story. He achieves this by employing the use of dialogue in the narrative to break the monotony of first-person narration. This has the effect of making the story interesting. Further, the writer introduces the characters every time he brings them up hence keeping readers in the know. The readers are in sync with the story which sets up the basis for the story’s climax. The events unfold in the reader’s mind as the primary conflict is introduced. Ms. Dent presents an obstacle as Mr. Blake tries to find his way home.
Mr. Blake and Ms. Dent
Cheever brings out the turning point of the story when Miss Dent approaches the protagonist on the train with a gun. At first, Mr. Blake is fooled by her adversary’s soft voice which reassured him that she was harmless thereby welcoming her to sit by his side. Blake tries to make a good impression on his neighbors by faking concern on learning that Miss Dent had been ill. The fact that Blake is oblivious that her adversary is making small talk to win his confidence contributes to building up the climax of the story.
The protagonist looks around the car to gain reassurance that he is safe from any threatening danger he had earlier speculated. The events build-up to the climax of the story when Blake attempts to shift to the next car but is threatened with a gun. Blake is tongue-tied and the reader is left wondering what direction the story will take as Miss Dent gains full control of the situation.
There are various opposing forces in the narrative that ultimately leads to the development of the theme. The incidents are tied to each other hence making the plot move. The struggle to get rid of Miss Blake presents the main conflict. As water runs down Blake’s neck, it feels like the sweat of fear.
However, the protagonist is faced with internal conflicts such as where he feels guilty when he bypassed Miss Dent for the first time on the elevator. This builds a basis for developing the theme of the story as the reader gets the impression that Blake is afraid of Miss Dent. The author uses diction to describe how uncomfortable the protagonist is in every aspect of the story. The short story’s theme is deception and the ultimate redemption by Miss Dent.
The author presents the conflict between good and evil when he explains the circumstances leading to Blake firing Miss Dent, his receptionist. Mr. Blake is presented as a selfish man because he sees himself perfectly despite the fact that he sleeps with Ms. Blake and fires her the following morning. Blake’s neighbors are aware of his bad behavior leading to his rejection. Blake uses calculated self-deceptions to cheer him implying that he is evil and preys of the disadvantaged. Blake’s unpleasant tastes in the train represent his real life.
The external conflict in the story is extended to his own family. The quarrel with his wife and the fact that his son moved half his possessions to his neighbor’s house imply that his Blake’s life is not as brilliant as it seems. The author uses a language suggesting that Blake leads a hidden life such as where he says that Blake appears “undistinguished in every way”. Blake recognizes the pointlessness of feeling regret but feels its full force on the train.
The Five Forty Eight Summary
At the end of the narrative, Ms. Dent wants Blake to put his face in the dirt whereupon he obliges. Redemption comes about when Blake’s pride is hurt despite the fact that he is full of himself. However, although Blake had been faced with the knowledge of his undoing, he gets from the dirt, puts on his hat and walks home while his self-deceptions ring his mind. This implies that Blake’s heart is villainous as his encounter does not make him reconsider his attitude towards life. The protagonist’s poor morals are represented in a cheap piece of paper on which his past actions are referred.
The fact that the letter feels filthy and abhorrent in his fingers gives the impression that Blake is aware of his dirty deeds but is in denial. Further, he seemed to be thrown in his own personal hell while on the train which is described as filthy and stinky. However, Miss Dent achieves her vengeance as she contently walks away from the station a satisfied woman marking the end of the conflict.