In Sherwood Anderson's story "The Other Woman," why don't the characters have names?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"The Other Woman" by Sherwood Anderson has the quality of a parable or a fable. the narrator is an average man, engaged to be married, who has managed to have a few poems published in magazines and even been awarded some minor recognition as a poet. He also gets a government position, which is not described in any detail; the reader can deduce that in reality it was some sort of minor bureaucratic post. For a man otherwise undistinguished, these events seem momentous and make him feel important and noticed for the first time in his life. He responds by daydreaming, retreating for a few days into an imaginary universe in which he really is important and distinguished and everyone is watching him. This overflowing sense of power and importance may have led him to have an affair with the tobaconnist's wife, though this may also be imaginary. 

The lack of names in the narrative adds to the dreamlike quality of the story. It also emphasizes that the characters are not, in fact, distinguished, but merely average and undistinguished. While the man imagines himself a household name, known and recognized by everyone, he does not even have a name in the story in which he is a protagonist. He also does not name others; he does not refer to the wife he claims to love nor the women he claims is so real and important to him by their names. This reveals him as somewhat of an egotist. 

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