Barbra Lazear Ascher’s “The Boxman” is a composition about loneliness and different aspects of it. Ascher takes loneliness and portrays it in different characters such as the Box Man, the lady in the coffee shop and the lady in in her apartment. She shows that the simplicity of chosen loneliness is less painful than the complications of loneliness forced upon you.
Ascher describes the Box Man to be content with his life. His boxes are more than enough for him and are described as “…comforts to fill a doorway”. He is certainly comfortable with his lifestyle as he stands “unselfconsciously in the white gleam of an overhead light.” He carefully picks the boxes that go into his home, “Three were tossed aside. They looked perfectly good to me…” knowing which are good and which ones will not do. He has probably lived this way for a while seeming as he could pick just the right ones to “… ease himself with slow care onto…” and read the Daily News, proving that he is content.
Then comes the lady in the coffee shop. In my opinion she is the loneliest of them all. We could assume from the way she “drags it out as long as possible” that she is indeed desolate. This woman seemingly has nothing in her life worth remembering because “You can tell by the vacancy of expression that no memories linger there.” Hers is the most painful loneliness because “her children …prefer not to visit.” Although we do not know why or how, we can see that she is not her children’s favorite person.
After, Ascher goes on to talk about the “lady across the way”. She has things such as her six cats to occupy her mind so she doesn’t think about being lonesome as much. Her television, although probably quiet, speaks volumes of her loneliness as it and the lights continue to toil on at three in the morning. She may be “waiting for the phone to ring or an engraved invitation to arrive in the mail” as an escape from her aloneness.
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