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Closed Boxes Essay, Research Paper

Closed Boxes

There are many types of relationships, though all are complicated and both parties of the relationship must bend over backward for one another. In Boxes, Carver shows how difficult it is for the son to cope with bringing closure to his mother’s relationship though he still loves her. The mother moves to be near her son; however, she starts packing to move again a while later; not finding the relationship she once had with her son. Through the short story “Boxes,” Raymond Carver makes evident the difficulties of bringing closure to a relationship.

From the mother’s point of view, Carver displays the closure of their relationship when he describes how the mother moved to where her son lived, only to have all her boxes packed a few months later, ready to move again. “Within a day or two of deciding to move, she’d packed her things into boxes. That was last January. Or maybe it was February. Anyway, last winter sometime. Now it’s the end of June. Boxes have been sitting around inside her house for months” (411). So the mother has had her belongings packed from January to June, over 6 months. His mother has been living in boxes for over half a year. In real meaning, the mother wants to have that special mother son relationship; however, she feels like he is not giving her enough attention and spending enough time with her. So she decides to leave. But she still stays 6 months with her boxes packed, because she does not want to close the relationship with her son. The mother assumed by being with her son their relationship would help her enjoy the place where she was now. And she would feel and sense of belonging and be able to stop moving around to so many different places. But after she had stayed in the place for only a month, the mother discovered she hated the place, and criticised her son to why she had moved to such a “disagreeable place.” She was depending on her renewed mother-son friendship for her to enjoy the place and settle down to stay. But she never received it. All along she was trying to hint to her son she wanted to stay, but to no avail. She waits six months and the son does not make any inferences or hints he wants her to stay. So she decides to pack up her belongings and move back to where she started from. As Carver shows how difficult it is for the mother to close that special mother son relationship they once had, and how long it takes for her to finally move on.

Next, the mother infers that the closure of their relationship is due to the son not wanting to spend any time with her. But instead he spends time with his girlfriend Jill and leaves the phone off the hook. She even says, “I don’t know anywhere to go here. There are people back in California. I’ve got friends there who care what happens to me. Nobody gives a damn here” (414). Concluding her own son does not care what happens to her. The son just hangs the phone up not knowing what to say or how to respond to her. So the mother feels like she has lost the relationship with her son because he does not spend as much time with her as when he was her little boy. But she feels that he is always off with Jill or doing some other activity, ignoring her, and that their relationship has completely deteriorated, not grown, which is difficult for her to deal with. As a result, she decides to go back to where she has real friends, at home. Infering she does not feel her son truly cares about her anymore; an authentic friend would have cared about her feelings and spent more time with her than just one dinner a month. Thus Carver makes evident the closure of their relationship through the mother’s intent

According to the son’s point of view, Jill, the son’s partner, characterizes his mom as the same type of personality that her first husband was: “a clinger,” which is what the son feels has lead to the closure of their relationship. She states that they suffocate the other person, and never know when to let go. Which the sons feels the mother is trying to do with him in their relationship. She will not let her son breath, and when other women have came into his life, his mother considers them an intrusion and does everything she can to make life miserable for the couple. As the son comments, “It’s fair to say that my mother sees Jill as an intruder. As far as she’s concerned, Jill is just another girl in a series of girls who have appeared in my life since my wife left me. Someone, to her mind, likely to take away affection, attention, maybe even some money that might otherwise come to her” (410). The son sees his mother feeling threatened from the other women because she does not get as much attention and have as deep of a relationship with her son since before he met the other women. He feels that she needs to cling to him and make his life difficult. Because of this he realizes that he will not be as close with her as before. But his mother does not see this, she thinks that she is the only important person in his life and feels that she should receive all of his attention. Since he loves her, it is difficult for him to bring the closure to her being the only special relationship in his life.

The son also realizes the closure of the relationship with his son when he comes to comprehend he can no longer help or deal with his mother’s negativity. She rambles off saying,” It’s hot for this time of year. She doesn’t think the air conditioner in the apartment is working right” (423). He responds by telling her that she should talk to the manager, but she just says that she is never around when she needs her. In frustration he responds to her by saying, “Dear, try not to be afraid.” Then he says goodbye and hangs up. This signifies that he no longer feels that he as a person can help her. No matter what he says she will always respond to him in a negative way and will never to listen to him or his statements.

The “Dear” statement is meant to be a closure telling her goodbye in a sense and that he will always have affection for her. Because his father was a drunken spiteful man who usually treated her bad. Except for the couple times when he was sober and was able to say something nice with Dear; it brought security and warmth to her problems. For that reason the son gives her that message, insisting that though she might be worried or upset, she will be okay and he will always care about her, no matter how far they may drift apart.

The final statement of the short story notably summarized the character’s feelings. Carver writes, “What’s there to tell? The people over there embrace for a minute, and then they go inside the house together. They leave the light burning. Then they remember, and it goes out” (424). This symbolizes the son and his mother and how their relationship has progressed. Their relationship is represented by the light. But as the relationship progresses over the years he finally realizes the problems of her bring negative all the time, and complaining at every turn, will never go away. In seeing he will never be able to help her, he gives up. And if he can never truly help and talk to her he can never have an authentic conversation with her, and help her when she is down. Which is what authentic friends must be capable of doing, communicating clearly with that person. Thus he realizes that he must bring closure to their relationship even though he loves her a great deal. He even knows that he will not be going back to Los Angeles ever again, and when she left it would be the last time he would ever see her.

Carver gets his theme of closure of a relationship clearly across to his readers. From the candle, the boxes, and their relationship throughout this piece of work this is well displayed. Especially, with the conclusion of the story with the symbolism of the light. The mother and son depicted in this story are seen often in real life. Incidences often occur with people bringing closure to the relationships they once had with their friends due to giving up on dealing with their complaints or negativity. This Carver story should be an ideal example for anyone who is caught in the same situations the main characters of Boxes were caught in.


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