In the short story "Always a Motive", Dan Ross depicts Joe Manetti, the protagonist, as an agonized, isolated, and heartbroken young man.
After returning the missing Miller boy to his father, Joe Manetti is interrogated by the Inspector and is perceived as an agonized man. When asked about his occupation, he says that he is a musician, "but not working at it now". When asked if he was married, he says yes, "but my wife left me. She's somewhere on the West Coast". Being alone and unemployed would be difficult for anyone, which leaves the Inspector suspicious as to the motive of why Manetti has supposedly kidnapped the Miller boy. The fact that Joe seems to be rather troubled does not help his case. He also has a habit of driving aimlessly around as an escape from the "spells" he experiences. When asked for his alibi, all he could say was that he was out "somewhere driving", which isn't very convincing. Joe explains that "[he gets] spells when [he] can't stand it in [his] place. [He just takes] the car and [he] drives until [he] feels better". This behaviour can only be described as something a person who is experiencing pain would do to escape it. This shows us that Joe is so unhappy that he feels the need to mentally escape his reality, but settles for physically escaping the confines of his home where the memories of what he once had still linger. The manner in which Joe drives around uselessly with no destination or reason also illustrates his state of mind. Joe is so agonized that he cannot recognize the dilemma he is in and cannot bring himself to face his agony head-on.
Joe Manetti is both psychologically and physically isolating himself by not giving anyone a chance to connect with him. He drives around to escape his life, which includes the people in it. While driving around for hours on end, he cuts off most interaction with all other people as well. If he does happen to meet new people, he doesn't give them enough time to establish a relationship,...
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