Mr. Serle is an interesting character in the short story. On one hand, he is shown to be the conversationalist on topics that can display a sense of wit, charm, and power. Yet, he is also exposed to be someone who is psychologically dependent on these superficial conversations. The person who he is in public is the person he likes hte most. The person he is at home is different, meeker and not in as much social control as he is when he engages in banter and displays his supposed wit.
In this light, the man is more frail than Miss Anning, a reflection of how social conformity and the need to appropriate what is socially acceptable can be destructive to both genders. When both of them make the startling revelation of their states of being in the world, he fully understands his own condition as she understands hers. She has no need for this world of polite social conversation, while he has nothing but a need for it. Both of them recognize the startling experience at the threshold of revelation and another incident prevents them from having to endure it any more.
The man's presence in this dialogue and process is essential because it demonstrates how social trappings impact those who are apart from it and immersed together within it.