Five Forty Eight

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Darya Dotson
Literary Heritage


In the short story Five-Forty-Eight John Cheever demonstrates the effects a man can have on a fragile women. There are two characters is this story: Blake (the business man) and Miss. Dent (the women scorned). She had been his secretary whom he slept with a consequently fired. Miss Dent was not stable mentally and she didn't take this very well. The story starts out with Blake getting off the elevator in the building he worked in. As he steps out of the elevator he thinks he sees her in the crowd of people but he's not sure. He leaves the office building and proceeds to walk down the street, all the time he has a feeling that someone is following him. Blake begins to get scared and he tries to think of ways to escape. He decides to go into a bar, she doesn't follow him inside. After awhile he believes that she is gone so he goes to catch the five-forty-eight. While he's on the train he looks around and sees some of his neighbors. He doesn't realize at first she is on the train. Then she comes and ask to sit with him and she begins to cry. Blake tries to talk to her about normal things, like her job. She laughs at him and says that "he poisoned their minds." Blake tries to think of a way to escape but she tells him that she has a pistol and she would have to kill him. They eventually get off the train together. It seems like she is taking him to a private place so she can shoot him but she doesn't. She makes him get down on his knees and put his face in the dirt. That makes her feel better, she says "now I can wash my hands of you." Miss. Dent walks off and lets him live.
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