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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. – “No One Is A Mystery” by Elizabeth Tallent

While it could be said that Tallent did not mean for her short story to be about domestic abuse, not even as a background prop, we could as readers figure out that the two characters’ relationship isn’t exactly fine. First off, Jack is cheating on his wife, and we didn’t need a reason on why he cheated, but we should all know that cheating is wrong. He does, however, mention that his wife likes to keep her car lights on in the daylight, of which ‘irritates [him] more than that.’ Jack seems to me like a man who asks for many things from his wife, and even with just one little particular habit would make him irritated.

black-pick-up-truckNow, the above quote is what makes me feel like the relationship between the two characters isn’t that particularly healthy. Again, we have a short story and in this story, we only get one scene between the two, so we are not exactly sure what will go on later. However, what person would shove their partner’s head down onto a dirty floor? Tallent’s usage of the word ‘shove’ brings up an image of Jack pushing the narrator’s head down without her consent and in a rough manner. The description of the dirty floor and musk of cigarettes make me think he really doesn’t care if the narrator is comfortable or not down there either.

The gift of a diary seems a bit childish, as diaries are often associated with children and pre-teens, not to an eighteen-year-old. I’m also not sure why Jack decided to give her a diary for a gift unless he still thinks of her like a child. That assumption that this girl who is to be his lover is thought of like a child is problematic because Jack is basically reducing her to that, rather than a grown young woman.


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