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Character and Relationship Evolution in Elizabeth Tallent’s “No One’s a Mystery”

In: English and Literature

Submitted By bondman100
Words 1019
Pages 5
Connor Wakefield
David Norman
ENGL1102
3 February 2014
Character and Relationship Evolution in Elizabeth Tallent’s “No One’s a Mystery”

"No One's A Mystery," by Elizabeth Tallent, is a short story that takes place in the dazzling heat of Cheyenne, Wyoming, in the front seat of the Jack’s dirty pick-up truck. The other main character in the story, who is also the narrator, is an eighteen year old girl who has been having an affair with Jack for the last two years. This story takes place on the young girls Eighteenth birthday. Although throughout the story, the young girls feeling of love and hope for their relationship are steadfast, the narrator takes the reader on the wavering struggles Jack has between caring about the eighteen year old girl and their relationship, while remembering the reality of both their situations, even though Jack consistently shows signs of being a non-caring, boozing, and adulterous older man.
Throughout the story, the narrator takes the reader through many different opinions on how Jack treats the young girl. In the first sentence, Jack seems like a nice guy who has bought the young girl a five year diary, which is a very thoughtful birthday gift for an eighteen year old. Within moments, the narrator then shows Jack as very uncaring, as he pushes her head down while attempting to hide her from his wife. Not only are the readers now looking at him as an adulteress, but through the narrator’s description of her surroundings, are envisioning Jack as a guy who drinks booze with under aged girls while wearing dirty boots in his dirty truck. Jacks character continues to barrel downwards as he rides by his wife with his mistress in the car slinging insults about the stupid things his wife does. As the young girl tells Jack that she is going to write about how much she loves him in her diary, he discourages her by telling her that in a year she will be writing about not being together anymore and what she ever saw in him. The young girl ignores him and says that she will be writing about their wonderful life together, and the children they will have. At first Jack continues to disagree with the young girl’s writings, but then the reader starts seeing Jack liking the life she is describing and at the end even imaging that his daughters breath “will smell like her your milk, and its kind of a bittersweet smell” (Tallent 2). Although the reader may find it hard to like Jack, they do start seeing that he may care for the young girl but knows that a future with her may not be a reality.
The young girl in the story remains static in her love for Jack and believes in witthe future she imagines. At the beginning of the story, we see the girl as a young and idealistic girl that is blinded by love. She does not seem to care that not only is Jack married, but he has very little compassion for his wife. She continues to take his abuse when he pushes down on the floorboard while she inhales “the musk of his cigarettes in the dashboard ashtray”, “the compact wedge of muddy manure between the heal and the sole”, and “100 pop tops on the floor”, and doesn’t even notice that he insults her by comparing her to a little kid (Tallent 1). The young girl continues to be resolute on the future of their relationship even though he continues to tell her they are not going to be together in the future. At the end, she asks Jack which future he likes better and when he tells her “I like yours, but I believe mine” (Tallent 2). She tells him “It doesn’t matter, I believe mine.”(Tallent 2). The young girl is very sure that she loves Jack, even if he is married, and that they are not going to have a life together.
The perception of the young girl and Jacks relationship starts off as the reader feels sorry for the young girl, but then changes at the end when Jack, although still denying they have a future, starts to imagine what his life would be like with the young girl. Even though Jack bought the young girl a diary for her birthday, the reader is disgusted with how he not only treats her but how he has been having an affair for two years in the same town that he and his wife reside. Jack is also very quick to say that he does not believe that the two of them would be together years from now. Despite that, the narrator continues to push Jack in the form of diary entries, in attempt to get Jack to show some mutual feeling. She reads several passages she thought up in her head about how they met each other and having children. At the very end of the story, Jack finally gives in to her, and creates a diary entry of his own about his daughter’s breath smelling like her mother’s milk. At the beginning of the story the reader feels that there is not hope for this relationship, but at the end of the story starts seeing Jack thinking that maybe they could have a future.
Even though Jack consistently through the story shows signs of being hardhearted, the young girl’s determination of love and dreams of a future, causes Jack to start changing and imagining a life with her and their children, even though he does not feel it is realistic. At the beginning of the story the reader hopes that the young girl will see what a jerk Jack is being. By the end of the story, the narrator’s description of what their life would be like is so sweet that you hope Jack may be changing his ways and maybe that dream can come true.

Works Cited
Tallent, Elizabeth. “No One’s a Mystery.” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed.
Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 306-10. Print.…...

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