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Literary analysis on “No One’s a Mystery”

Elizabeth Tallent’s short story “No One’s a Mystery” is about Jack and how he uses his 18 year-old admirer as an excuse to make himself think he is still young. It is a way to keep him in the frame of mind that he doesn’t need a wife, he can do what he wants and get what he wants without her.

Jack doesn’t seem to want a predictable life. His comments to his admirer show that he isn’t ready to settle down with his wife. For the most part his comments are short and indirect, “ ‘It’s her,’ he said. ‘She keeps her lights on in the daytime. I cant think of a single habit in a woman that irritates me more than that.’ “ (Tallent 1). This quote is showing Jack belittling his wife. It’s something that would be said in a high school relationship. He also puts her down once again by saying,

“She thinks it’s safer. Why does she need to be safer? She’s driving exactly fifty-five miles an hour. She believes in those signs: ‘Speed Monitored by Aircraft.’ It doesn’t matter that you can look up and see the sky is empty” (Tallent 1).

The comment isn’t said to be belittle his wife as much as the first but its almost like he is saying these comments to win his admirers affection. She taking it as Jack is in love with her and not his wife.

However when Jack saw his wife coming in the distance his actions showed little respect for his young admirer, “He pushed me down onto the dirty floor of the pickup and kept one hand on my head while I inhaled the musk of his cigarettes in the dashboard ashtray” (Tallent 1). This is horrible to have to go through but the girl has fallen in love with him to the point where she doesn’t think anything is wrong with the situation. “When he saw that I was going to stay still he took his hand from my head and ran it through his own dark hair” (Tallent 1). Jack has to be really inconsiderate to put someone through that. He cares for her about as much as he does all his pop-tops that are on his truck floor.

Later on in their trip Jack tells his admirer what he thinks she will be writing in her diary. “I wonder what I ever really saw in Jack. I wonder why I spent so many days just riding around in his pickup. It’s true he taught me something about sex” (Tallent 2). This comment here shows a little about how Jack sees their situation. He knows its not going to last forever and it will come to and end with in the year. You can tell the two have a very comfortable sexual relation ship by the “taught me something about sex” line in his speech. They are both so comfortable around it that he feels free to joke about it around her.

Jack situation is not one that’s seen as mature or respecting among most people. He uses his lover for sex and keeps his wife in the dark of the whole situation. It is selfish and wrong for Jack to be acting like this. Jack does what he wants all day and has no respect for either of the two women involved in his situation showing a childish attitude with his respect for other people.


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