Discuss one of the themes in "The Mouse."

The main theme of this story is the shortcomings of societal privilege.

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One of the themes which develops in "The Mouse" is the shortcomings of societal privilege.

When Theodoric was young, he was quite sheltered from the "coarser realities of life" by his doting mother. When she died, Theodoric was left as a middle-aged man who was forced to navigate the realities of the world, and he became annoyed and frustrated by even the most commonplace circumstances.

Theodoric therefore has a low tolerance for life's challenges, and he is horrified while aboard the train to discover that a mouse has decided to take residence in his clothes. Because he has been so sheltered from adversity, Theodoric cannot cope with what should be a relatively minor inconvenience.

Instead, he panics. Theodoric hastily undresses and frees the mouse, but his effort awakens the sleeping female traveler who shares his space. As the woman "stares" at Theodoric, who has now wrapped his naked body in a rug, her blindness is utterly lost on him. Theodoric's inability to recognize the vacancy behind the woman's eyes is a testament to his limited exposure to other people's challenges. He has been so protected from the trials of the world that he is (ironically) blind to the truth of his situation. More concerned with his own appearances than with the woman's condition, Theodoric immediately begins to invent tales which might explain his situation and thereby preserve his reputation.

The woman, who has endured the challenges of life, is not ruffled by Theodoric's agitated state. Instead, she meets his turmoil with a steady calmness. Theodoric's character weakness can be attributed to a lifetime spent avoiding the true nature of living, which is filled with "coarse" and unflattering circumstances.

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