Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Adam and Eve and Pinch Me” seems to suggest that an immense spirit world surrounds the literal world. Gilbert Cannister is a professional writer who is used to delving into the psyches of his characters. The story describes an out-of-body experience in which he is forced to plumb the depths of his own psyche. He notes his own Jekyll and Hyde nature.

One moment Cannister’s alter ego, Jaffa Codling, is noting the beauty of nature and his children, the next he is jealous because he thinks his wife is kissing another man. He mistrusts her and feels enraged. Later he is annoyed at the maid and throws a flowerpot at the gardener. Still later he seems to communicate with the child Gabriel. This mixture of anger, beauty, joy, and jealousy deeply disturbs Codling. In truth the range of emotions in an individual is disturbing indeed, but one’s conscious mind often denies the disturbing elements.

Jaffa Codling’s world is also a highly symbolic one. The children’s names, Adam, Eve, and Gabriel, take one back to the Garden of Eden, while the title of the story recalls the nursery rhyme “Adam and Eve and Pinch Me Tight.” Throughout the story, Codling keeps pinching himself trying to understand what is real and what is not. Gabriel’s sword is the one that barred Adam and Eve from reentering Eden after the Fall; it is indeed dangerous, just as the gardener warned the little boy Gabriel about his sword. Gabriel is also the biblical messenger...

(The entire section is 411 words.)