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An Essay on Raymond Carver´s “tell the Women We’re Going”

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An Essay on Raymond Carver´s “Tell the Women We’re Going”

Being young and making the right decision, at the right time, and the right way, can be a challenge for many. In some cases, their decision brings them down a road, which may seem like a blind road; no way back or opportunities to change direction in life. People, in such situations, sometime ends up being bitter, disappointed and dissatisfied with their lives, which can have a negative or even a fatal impact on their surroundings; their families, friends or even innocent and random persons. “Tell the Women We are Going” is the story about two friends, who grow up together, sharing mostly all things in life, but their path brings them to a point of no return one Sunday afternoon. This short story is one of several stories from the book “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”, written in 1981 by Raymond Carver.

For a start, the friendship between Bill and Jerry could almost be described as twins in perfect symbiosis with each other (p. 19, l. 5-7) “They wore each other’s shirts and sweaters and pegged pants, and dated and banged the same girls” They simply, shared everything and (p. 19, l. 15) “It worked out fine” according to the narrator. However, an imbalance in their relationship were created, when Jerry decided to drop out of school and began to work at Robby’s Mart, furthermore, married a girl, Carol, who Bill used to date. Although Bill visited Jerry and Carol as often he could (p. 19, l. 19) “Bill went over there every chance he got” the relationship came to a pause, which most likely is a combination of Bill feeling like a third wheel and/or his disappoint in Jerry´s role as a best friend, which the narrator stated in the opening of the story (p. 19, l. 1) “Bill Jamison had always been best friends with Jerry Roberts”. With this statement, the narrator is also indicating that this “best friend” phenomena are not a mutual thing.  Bill does not have the self-esteem and - confidence to say no to Jerry, even though he should (p. 23. l, 11 – 14) “Let´s go back” Jerry said “Let´s try it”. “Jesus” Bill said. “I don’t know”. “I could use some” Jerry said. Bill said “Yeah, but I don’t know.” A situation, which clearly tells the reader that it is Jerry who’s dominating and running the show, furthermore, totally ignoring what Bill is trying to say in between the lines “this is a stupid idea, let’s go home”. In conclusion, a combination of Bill´s lacking ability to stand up for himself, and stop Jerry, along with Jerry´s controlling violent behaviour, brings the both of them in a devastating situation.

Next, when looking at each of the two main characters individual characteristics, we will identify two very different persons. Firstly, Bill´s outer characterization identifies a person who had been best friends with Jerry since childhood (p. 19, l. 1) “Bill Jamison had always been best friends with Jerry Roberts”. Later on, he graduates from collage, gets a job at the Darigold plant, joins the National Guard and marries Linda. However, Bill´s inner characteristics is perceived as a person with low self-esteem and always looked up to Jerry, following his direction, although Bill know he should do the opposite (p. 22, l. 34) “Bill always looking at his watch and then looking at Jerry” and again later (p. 23, l. 16) “Bill glanced at his watch and the looked all around”, which is indicates that Bill have a bad conscience and feels that he should be back with his wife instead of following jerry´s dominating and manipulating course of action. Whereas Jerry´s characterization, we find a very different outer appearance. Although Jerry grow up with Bill and spend a lot of time together, the narrator does state that there is a mutual “best friend” situation seen from Jerry´s point of view. Furthermore, he drops out of college and gets married to Carol in an early age, later he finds a job at Robby´s Mart where he becomes “assistant manager” and have two kids, and Carol being pregnant with number three. In addition, Jerry´s inner characterization seems to move from a happy and independent youth (p.19, l. 11) “there was no boss to get on your ass” a period with no obligation to anyone but yourself, to become disappointed and dissatisfied with his common and boring married life. Over time his inner demons comes to the surface; drinking and having quarrels with his wife (p. 22, l. 21) “You boys getting any on the side? Jerry, the last time I seen you, your old lady was 6 months gone”, which indicates that Carol had left him for unknown reasons, but had returned. Later, his words become misogynistic and aggressive, when he speaks about the two you girls on the bikes (p. 23, l. 25) “bitches”, which is another indication of what he is to become. An assailant. He becomes obsessed by the girls and use his control over Bill, to archive his goal and catch the girls. Summing up the characteristics, it is perceived that the two-main characters may have been best friends in their very young days, but the path each of them have chosen; Jerry married early and Bill finalizing his college etc. have made the them the different persons they had become at the end.

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