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Untitled Essay Research Paper 12997Essay

Untitled Essay, Research Paper

1-29-97Essay #2: Character Analysis for The Portable Phonograph

Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s short story, The Portable

Phonograph, is a

tale about the last survivors in the world after the total destruction of

a war.

The author gives clues and hints of this throughout the beginning by writing


a narative voice and describing the scene in dark war-like terms. The

characters are then introduced as a group of men huddled around a fire. The

older of the men, Doctor Jenkins, is the leader and his character is full


personality that can be analyzed by the reader. He is the owner of the


that they meet in. This paper will point out the different aspects of the


man in this story and state conclusions that can be drawn from them.

The men in this story are obviously amused by the slightest

little things.

They occupy themselves through book readings from a collection that one

man has. Each of the men has their contribution to the group and together

they endure a time of devastation by entertaining each other. The older man

has a record player that he brings out once a week for the listening


of the group. He is very proud of this treasure. It has sustained through


hard times just as he has and he limits his use of it to make it last. He


only three steel needles and he gets one out to use because on this


occasion, their is a musician visitor with them. The other men act as


as children. They listen to the record and then leave the doctor’s house.

Doctor Jenkins is nervous and suspicious at the end of

the story when

the other men leave. “With nervous hands he lowered the piece of canvas

which served as his door, and pegged it at the bottom. Then quickly


looking at the piece of canvas frequently, he slipped the records in the


(Clark, page 241). He feels that “everything he has” is at risk with the


that a time like this could produce in the other men. He is secure and

comfortable with the things that he has and he doesn’t trust the others.


then hides his treasures away in a safe place after they leave. As he gets


his bed he feels the “comfortable piece of lead pipe” with his hand. The

doctor has no problem resorting to violence and that actually makes him


more comfortable.

The greed that the doctor sees in the others is a reflection

of the

feelings and thoughts that he himself has. His views are distorted through


thick shell and he sees himself in the men. He invites them back every


it seems, so it is quite possibly that his possessions do not make him as


as the company he receives every week.

The contrast between the happiness that the men get from

his musical

device and the lack of fulfillment this provides for him is interesting.

In the

world that this story describes, the reader expects the the doctor to be


with all that he has. As the story unfolds, you gain an understanding of


feelings behind his possessions.

Doctor Jenkins is a normal character. His feelings are

presented in a

real manner. The reader can conclude that his personality is not unlike


else. What he sees is influenced by the way he is and how he feels. He


things in a way that ultimately makes his feelings of suspicion and greed

stronger. Therefore never breaking the cycle of how he judges those around