The short story “Neighbors" by Raymond Carver has a plot that follows the exploits of Bill and Arlene Miller who are left to take care of the Stone’s apartment. The plot is chronological and despite a few memories of the characters, the action begins when the Stones leave for their trip and ends after the Millers have gone through their apartment. It is clear that there is a close friendship between the two couples and it is also apparent that Bill and Arlene find their lives less exciting than that of their neighbors. When the Stone’s leave for their vacation, Bill goes over to the apartment to water the plants and feed the cat.
As time progresses in the short story “Neighbors" by Raymond Carver, Bill becomes increasingly interested in his neighbor’s possessions, almost as though he is living through them simply by eating their food, drinking their drinks, and trying on their clothes. He even takes time off of work to spend time in their apartment, almost as if it has a magical quality that makes time fly by. It is also worth mentioning in this summary of “Neighbors" by Raymond Carver that Bill’s sex drive increases as he spends more time at the neighbor’s apartment, as does Arlene. Like her husband, Arlene too spends a great deal of time at the Stone’s apartment, rifling through their possessions.
The story “Neighbors" by Raymond Carver ends with the couple forgetting the key in their apartment and thus being locked out of it. There is a moment at the end where they clutch each other, almost as if they realize how they have been behaving. Overall, this is a story about how we compare our lives to other people’s and how the urge to live through others can manifest itself in different ways. While Bill and Arlene certainly don’t seem unhappy or sexually unfulfilled, any problems like these in their marriage are brought to the forefront after this experience.
The tone of Carver’s short story is very fact-driven and straightforward. The narrator of “Neighbors by Raymond Carver does not offer opinions of his characters, but merely states their actions in an unbiased way. He does not used large words or complicated imagery to convey story, choosing instead to relate it much as one might tell a story about a mundane occurrence that happens daily. In short, the tone is distanced and rather impersonal. Hand in hand with this unbiased and straightforward tone is the style. The style of “Neighbors" is clipped and not weighed down with extra details. The narrator does not change the point of view and instead sees both of the Millers and their actions. What is most fascinating about the style and tone is that they work together and allow a tale to be told that could be much longer. For instance, instead of giving us a detailed history of both couples, their marriages, and friendship, he uses subtle and short details to indicate this. For instance, while we are told that the Millers are a “happy couple" the plot of “Neighbors” by Raymond Carver and even a most basic character analysis of any of the two main characters in “Neighbors” tells us differently. Since the tone is straightforward and unbiased, it is up to the reader to interpret the actions of the characters as well as the story as a whole.
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