In the opening scene of “Pkhents,” Abram Tertz introduces a first-person limited narrator, who is also the main character in the story. Unfortunately, Tertz provides no background information about this character. However, as the story progresses, the narrator’s unique mannerisms suggest that he is actually an extraterrestrial who belongs to a different world.
A sense of confusion is created about the narrator’s identity when the narrator begins to form specific observations relating to humans and the human body. When the narrator goes to the Laundromat, he recognizes another man there, but rather than striking up a conversation, he begins to watch and analyze the man’s personal objects and behavior. For instance, he notices the other man washing his bed sheets, and his immediate thought is that the “people here” use these sheets for “reasons of hygiene.” His use of the phrase “people here” indicates that he is not a part of the culture/planet due to the fact that every culture universally uses sheets for hygiene purposes. Furthermore, he explains that the use of sheets is mainly for a human’s personal cleanliness. It is odd that he specifically brings up personal hygiene as the first thing that comes to mind for the purpose of bed sheets. The narrator’s observations hint that he is foreign to the lifestyle of humans. Additionally, the narrator notices that the word “feet” is inscribed along one side of the bed sheets, and believes it to be a “precaution” so that one’s “lips” do not touch anything that has been “rubbed and contaminated.” His emphasis on the sheets protecting a person’s mouth from becoming dirty demonstrates his specific connection of objects to body parts. Thus, his specific analysis highlights his distinctive habit of relating ordinary items to a human’s body and possibly suggests that his body does not require the same kind of hygienic precautions.
Not only does the narrator demonstrate this habit of relating the