Summary of Neighbors

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9/10/2005
Reaction to "Neighbors"
By: Raymond Carver

"Neighbors" by Raymond Carver is taken from one of several collections of short stories he has written entitled Where I'm Coming From. In this piece, Raymond lives up to his reputation as being a minimalist, using the bare essentials to convey his characters' emotions and the story's settings. "Neighbors" is the tale of a couple, Bill and Arlene Miller, who find themselves bored with their own life, and separately rediscover excitement eaves dropping in their neighbors lives. Though some of the actions taken by the Millers could be viewed as taboo, they did what was right for them to come out of their slump.

The Millers have become jaded with the life they are leading. Among their friends, they feel left behind; identifying with only their work. The couple often find themselves comparing their life to that of others, particularly their neighbors, Jim and Harriet Stone. The Millers view the Stones' business travels as sign of an exciting life, and are envious of this perception they have. Feelings of inadequacies such as these are not uncommon in today's fast paced world. It is easy for an individual to compare his life to that of another and feel like they are coming up short. However, our perceptions of others are often distorted in some way, and the comparison is way off base.

When the Stones are away, the Millers typically watch after their apartment; feed the cat and water the plants. On this occasion, Bill begins to explore the apartment beyond what is needed. He searches through the Stones' cabinets and drawers, and into their closet. Doing so brings a forgotten pleasure to Bill. Perhaps thinking he could be caught, or the guilt of looking into another's private life, something brings feelings of excitement back to Bill. He spends up to an hour at a time at the Stones' apartment; rummaging behind closed doors, even going so far as to try on both Jim and Harriets's clothes....
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