Dear Alexandros

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“Dear Alexandros” by John Updike is an allegorical work of fiction written in 1959. It takes the form of a pair of letters exchanged between two people on opposite sides of the world. There is more than what is shown on the surface of this tale about a Greek boy named Alexandros Koundouriotis who is “adopted” by an American family through a charitable organization by the name of Hope, Incorporated. In this short tale, Updike conveys the difference between lifestyles in the western and northern hemispheres, as well as the innocence of youth, the strain of adulthood, and the therapeutical effect the act of simply writing a letter can have on a man during a point of difficult transition in his life.

The first letter is written to Mr and Mrs Bentley by Alexandros, a Greek boy residing with his Grandmother and sister. In his letter, Alexandros expresses his gratitude and adoration towards the Bentleys, as well as his concern for them, given the span of time between each letter. “I was looking forward again this month to receiving a letter from you, but unfortunately I have again not received one. So I am worried about you, for I am longing to hear about you, dear American Parents. You show such a great interest in me, and every month I receive your help.” (Updike, 55.) Alexandros lives a happy, simple life, mentioning to his American Parents that he is on school vacation, and that he is spending his time at the beach with his friends. The letter is short and sweet, expresses his gratitude and urges his American Parents to continue their correspondence.

Mr Kenneth Bentley, American Parent #10,638, sends the second letter – a reply to Alexandros – from New York City. After a brief greeting and reply to the boy, Kenneth promptly confesses, “Mrs Bentley and I no longer live together. I had not intended to tell you this but now the sentence is typed and I see no harm in it.” (56). The man attempts to move on from the topic numerous times throughout his letter,...
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