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What Makes A Scumbag?

Jack from Elizabeth Tallent’s “No One’s A Mystery” is, without a doubt, a scumbag. He is a married man who is in a romantic relationship with a young woman who has just turned eighteen. Jack’s dialogue seems to suggest that Jack and the narrator are sexually active, which, depending on the setting, means that Jack might be a statutory rapist. Similarly, some of Jack’s other dialogue suggest that he has had children with his wife but that they are now grown and older than the narrator. However, Jack seems to know that he is a scumbag. He doesn’t hide his marriage from his lover and never really makes excuses for adultery, and although he does seem to be unhappy with his wife, he doesn’t seem to have any serious plans to divorce her. He also has a rather practical view on his relationship with the narrator and seems to know that it won’t last and she’ll eventually move on. This is in direct contrast with the narrator who seems to be completely in love with Jack and has already planned out their life together, which includes getting married and having two children within three years. She also knows he is married and doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, though she does seem to believe he will divorce his wife, so that raises the question of what kind of person the narrator is. 37b08fb8873eb78b6ea5a793b32f3b861838290494

One Response to “What Makes A Scumbag?”

  1. Caitlin: There’s no doubt that Jack isn’t an admirable character, that his actions are morally repugnant, but I’d like to see you engage with the art of the story, the craft. What techniques, what elements of craft, does Tallent use to shape her story and to guide our response to it? What does she do with point-of-view? With dialogue? With plot? With description?