(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The story presents a day in the life of Bob Baby and his wife, Babe, characterless characters leading entirely shallow lives somewhere in that nebulous place of modern existence: California. They get up, eat breakfast, wade through the blasé morning, skip lunch, cry, try to talk, go to what is supposed to be a party, then go back to sleep. This routine is how Bob and Babe spend their days and live their lives.

There is no conflict, external or internal, in the story. The two characters have been bought with bread and circuses in the sundry forms these things take in today’s world: television, appliances, entertainment, and other diversions. Mr. and Mrs. Baby inhabit a world in which thought is unnecessary; like babies, they depend entirely on something larger than themselves to take care of them. They are helplessly and haplessly devoid of both pain and pleasure; they seek only to perpetuate their own existences through the boredom of routine.

The setting is California, appropriately a nameless town there, where the future happens first. Even the physical descriptions of Bob and Babe Baby lack any depth: Each of them is compared to some twenty movie stars—that is, to the personages these actors and actresses portray, and betray as humans—so as to reveal that they are completely lacking in any unique characteristics. In the shadow of Hollywood, they are as movie characters leading pointless lives.

Although there is little here that can be labeled as plot, action, characterization, or setting, there is movement in the work as readers slowly become aware of the pain of existence, not so much of Bob and Babe Baby, but in their own lives. Strand takes the couple through a day, showing them getting up in the morning, following their activities around the clock, then tucks them in at night. The story is one of a void in the life of human automatons.