Character Analysis for The Portable Phonograph
Walter Van Tilburg Clark's short story, The Portable Phonograph, is a tale about the last survivors in the world after the total destruction of a war. The author gives clues and hints of this throughout the beginning by writing in a narative voice and describing the scene in dark war-like terms. The characters are then introduced as a group of men huddled around a fire. The older of the men, Doctor Jenkins, is the leader and his character is full of personality that can be analyzed by the reader. He is the owner of the shelter that they meet in. This paper will point out the different aspects of the old man in this story and state conclusions that can be drawn from them.
The men in this story are obviously amused by the slightest little things. They occupy themselves through book readings from a collection that one man has. Each of the men has their contribution to the group and together they endure a time of devastation by entertaining each other. The older man has a record player that he brings out once a week for the listening pleasure of the group. He is very proud of this treasure. It has sustained through these hard times just as he has and he limits his use of it to make it last. He owns only three steel needles and he gets one out to use because on this particular occasion, their is a musician visitor with them. The other men act as excited as children. They listen to the record and then leave the doctor's house.
Doctor Jenkins is nervous and suspicious at the end of the story when the other men leave. "With nervous hands he lowered the piece of canvas which served as his door, and pegged it at the bottom. Then quickly quietly, looking at the piece of canvas frequently, he slipped the records in the case..." (Clark, page 241). He feels that "everything he has" is at risk with the greed that a time like this could produce in the other men. He is secure and comfortable with the things that he has...
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