In "The Tell-Tale Heat," what specifically is about the old man that troubles the narrator? What does the narrator do every night? why?

4 Answers | Add Yours

pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The narrator is specifically troubled by the old man's eye which is covered in a filmy substance.  

"The narrator claims that he loves the old man and has no motive for the murder other than growing dislike of a cloudy film over one of the old man’s eyes."

The narrator becomes convinced that the old man's cloudy eye is the evil eye capable of causing him harm. 

Every night, in the darkness, the narrator watches the old man.

"For a whole week, he has snuck into the man’s room every night, but the victim has been sound asleep with his eyes closed each time. The narrator cannot bring himself to kill the man without seeing his ‘‘Evil Eye.’’

"On the eighth night, however, the man springs up and cries ‘‘Who’s there?’’ In the dark room, the narrator waits silently for an hour. The man does not go back to sleep; instead, he gives out a slight groan, realizing that ‘‘Death’’ is approaching."   

The narrator is determined to get rid of the possible curse that the evil eye can put on him, so he decides to kill the old man.  That is why he stalks the old man in his room every night, until he is ready to kill him.

cldbentley's profile pic

cldbentley | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

The old man had an eye that must have been injured at some point; it was very pale in color and had a film covering the iris.  The narrator stated that whenever the old man looked at him with that eye, his "blood ran cold".  The effect of the eye upon the narrator is his reason for deciding to kill the old man.

Each night, the narrator opened the old man's door, put his head (taking an hour to do so!), and used lantern light to look at the old man.  The narrator's purpose in doing this was to determine whether the "vulture" eye was open.  If the eye was open, he could go through with his plan to murder the old man; if the eye was closed, he could not.  The narrator felt that he could not murder the old man without being provoked by the eye; he seemed to feel that they eye was, in some ways, an entity separate from the old man.

booksclocks's profile pic

booksclocks | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

It is not the fact that the eye is blue or has a film over it that troubles him. He says is resembles "a vultures eye." A vulture is a bird who looks for dead things. Therefore, whenever the eye is open, and it seems it is looking at him he thinks the old man is looking for death. The vulture eye falls upon him and he thinks he is going to die! HE IS OBSESSED WITH DEATH!!! Notice how he calls the man, "old man?" Its because he recognizes how close the man is to death. Also, ever notice how obsessed with time he is? Page 136- "whole week," "every night about midnight," "hour," "seven long nights," etc... it is because he is counting the time until he dies! And the heartbeat, it is his own heart beat. 1. How could he hear the old man's heartbeat from across the room? 2. When he killed the old man & he was under the bed & the heartbeat "at lenght is ceased." It is because he calmed down! The narrator is skitsophrenic. 

kldoreo's profile pic

kldoreo | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

The old man's eye troubles that narrator. It troubles him because it reminds him of a voultures eye...and it makes him crazy. He doesnt think that he is mad but he is. It takes a mad man to kill someone.

Every night at 12 o'clock the narrator goes into the old mans bedroom to see if the evil eye is open. He does this because the eye makes him mad. And he doesnt want to kill the old man he only wants to get rid of the eye. But to get rid of the eye he has to kill the old man and the only way he can kill the old man is to see the eye.

We’ve answered 317,942 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question