What is the author's intention in "The Japanese Quince"?

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Galsworthy's intention in "The Japanese Quince," a short short story, becomes clear near the end, when the protagonist , Mr. Nilson, meets his next-door neighbor, Mr. Tandram. Mr. Nilson has been enjoying a complacent, self-satisfied early morning in his London townhouse, thinking that it is a perfect spring...

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Galsworthy's intention in "The Japanese Quince," a short short story, becomes clear near the end, when the protagonist, Mr. Nilson, meets his next-door neighbor, Mr. Tandram. Mr. Nilson has been enjoying a complacent, self-satisfied early morning in his London townhouse, thinking that it is a perfect spring day, that he looks healthy, and that all is well in the world. Taking his newspaper and holding it behind him, he goes to take a stroll in public gardens near his home.

All is well, and Mr. Nilson is thinking, perhaps with some pride, that he is the only one out. Then he sees his neighbor Mr. Tandrem and becomes unsettled when he notices that he looks just like himself: both men have round grey eyes, brown moustaches, wear the same black frock cloak, and are carrying the same newspaper. They even say the same sort of inane things. It is, for Mr. Nilson, like looking in a mirror, and he is disturbed by what he sees. It upsets him that he is completely ordinary and exactly like another man, as if they are each wind-up dolls from the same factory. He ends up shaken at his lack of individuality.

The story therefore asks us to question how much we have lost our individualism to social conformity. It could be, too, that the feeling of "emptiness" Mr. Nilson wakes up with under his fifth rib has to do not with some physical ailment but instead some inner lack of soul or being, a sense that he has become an automaton: nil or nothing, as his name suggests.

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In "The Japanese Quince", John Galsworthy is pointing out the ideal of a same, well-ordered, and familiar life has alienated men from both the enjoyment and the beauty of the natural world. Both Mr. Nilson and Mr. Tandram are well-off English businessmen who have let their jobs take over their lives. While both look healthy and happy, Nilson suffers from "an aching feeling just below his fifth rib" and Tandram is totally alienated from his fellow man. He has been living next to Nilson for five years, yet the two have never even introduced themselves to each other. Their stilted conversation revolves around what kind of tree the quince is, instead of how beautiful it has become. They do not really even hear the bird singing in the background and when they leave, Galsworthy notes ,"the blackbird resumes its singing, "that queer sensation, that choky feeling in his throat" returns. This comment underscores both men's separation from nature and natural beauty.

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