In the story "The Chaser," what makes the story sound realistic and what makes it seem unrealistic?

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Michael Ugulini | (Level 3) Educator

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In the story “The Chaser” by British writer John Collier one thing that makes the story sound realistic is the vivid description of the setting of the story. For example, right in the opening lines Collier describes:

…certain dark and creaky stairs in the neighborhood of Pell Street...

Collier also gives a realistic description of the old man’s tiny apartment – its plainness, dirt walls, as well as the bottles and jars on the shelves in this abode.

Another element that makes this story sound realistic is the broken dialogue by Alan Austen, an everyday kind of speech, as conveyed in this line:

“And these potions,” said Alan. “They are not just-just-er-“

In addition, dialogue is interrupted and cut-off, and sentences are not always complete. This is realistic because this is how normal everyday conversations between people are carried out.

A third element that makes “The Chaser” sound realistic is the subject matter of Love. Alan Austen desires a deeper love from the woman he loves. This makes the story realistic because the desire for love is a yearning of men and women the ages over to this day, and will continue to be.

The theme of this story bespeaks a yearning common to everyone in their respective daily lives. Readers can relate to this theme and also relate it to their own lives.

What makes “The Chaser” seem unrealistic is the fact that the old man sells “potions.” This may work in a fantasy story and is entertaining and thought provoking. However, is it really “realistic"?  I do not believe so. Therefore, even with the above points on how the story sounds realistic, this strong element of the story, a man selling potions, drives the story back down to an unrealistic level, while still keeping the story interesting as it uses this unrealistic element to highlight life truths (realistic).

Another thing that makes the story a bit unrealistic is the dialogue of the old man. It is somewhat heightened dialogue to propel the story forward. Most people do not talk this way in everyday conversation:

Their effects are permanent, and extend far beyond the mere casual impulse. But they include it. Oh, yes they include it. Bountifully, insistently. Everlastingly.”

The thought of a man regularly selling love potions and such from a small, worn-out apartment, and charging even five thousand dollars for one potion, seems unrealistic. The fact that the old man lives in a forlorn apartment while charging big money for some potions doesn’t really jive with his living conditions. It is a small point, but something to be considered.

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