Comment on the theme of relationship in the short story "The Signal-Man."

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major emphasis on the theme of relationships in "The Signal-Man" is on how technology, symbolized by the train, robs humankind of the initiative and ability to connect in relationships. This is illustrated by the ghost standing with one arm covering its eyes and the other arm waving frantically at an object that neither can nor will respond with a relationship that might save him.

Another demonstration of the theme of the futility of relationship in a technological world is the ineffectualness of the technological safety devices that are meant to stand in place of human relationship. These are flags, bells, red lights and telegraph signals, all of which fail at preventing tragedies that may have been averted if human agency were the means of communication.

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