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A Friendly Neighbor

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A friendly neighbour

“A book may be compared to your neighbour: if it be good, it cannot last too long; if bad, you cannot get rid of it too early”. A neighbour war is a relatively common phenomenon nowadays. Even though everybody most likely has experienced a friendly fight between neighbours, it is seldom that it goes as far as it does in “A friendly neighbour” by Adam Johnson from the year of 2004.

In this short story there is a first person narrator, which you can already tell by the very first word “I”. When a first person narrator is used, it makes it more easy to relate to the main character. In this particular story we quickly become convinced that what Roger is doing is completely okay, because we can read between the lines that Walker seems like a paedophile. Besides that, if we saw it from Walkers point of view, we would sympathize with him, but still think that his actions are wrong. The narrator in the story is unreliable, because he is a part of the story and we only see the story from his perspective. The story is written in past tense, but he tells the story as if the memories are still fresh, which you can conclude by seeing that he still remembers what he was thinking at the time. With that information you can also conclude that he took part in the story.

The title is very ironic, as no one in the neighbourhood could really be described as ‘friendly’. They want what is best for themselves, and don’t think of other peoples needs.

The story takes place in a very average neighbourhood, which also can add to that the reader can relate to the story themselves. They will wonder what would happen if they were in that situation, how people would react and how they would handle the situation. If they would ‘go crazy’ as Roger did, call the police, or get him some help.

There is no information on how the characters look, however we get informed that Walker doesn’t really wear any clothes. “All night it’s call after call from the neighbours, saying, you know, Call the cops, Walker needs help, he’s a goof, I’ve always hated him, maybe a few of us should go over there, let us work with you on this, do not lose your cool.” here the author uses indirect charac-terization by showing what other people think of Walker. It shows that the other neighbours want someone to take action before any harm is done.

Both of the main characters would be described as round and with a whole lot of character. Rogers first impression is that he seems like a very normal man with wife and kids, just trying to protect his kids from a bad man. On the other hand, as we get further into the story, a darker side of him is revealed. He seems to have anger issues, which you can see in how he acts towards Walker, pushing him down stairs and wonking him. Walker is a character you wouldn’t experience in an everyday situation. He crosses a line by walking into his neighbour’s home and almost walking into their children’s rooms, only wearing underwear. He would also be described as mentally ill by most people, if the assumptions we get by reading between the lines are true, if he is a paedophile.

You can easily be misled by a story if you only hear it from one persons point of view. Therefore, it could be his intention to make the reader think if what Roger did was the right thing to do, if he could have handled it another way or if they even were right about Walker. If he was an innocent man with mental issues, it could set the story in a whole new perspective. Either that was his point or else he just had a really shitty neighbour he needed to rant about, and maybe exaggerated a little bit. Because lets face it, haven’t we all had the urge to do that?…...

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