In John Collier's short story "The Chaser," what is the difference between glove-cleaner and life-cleaner?I want to know if there is a difference between the two cleaners.

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no difference between glove-cleaner and life-cleaner. Like the term "the chaser," these are all euphemisms for a poison the old man is selling to customers who have bought his love potion and now want to get rid of the woman who has fallen so madly in love that she will not let him have any privacy or freedom. The old man speaks in guarded language because he is actually a criminal dealing in lethal drugs and acting as an accessory to murder before the fact. The story is rather gruesome, but Collier characteristically makes it amusing by the tone and the inclusion of bizarre details, such as the fact that a man could operate such a business in the middle of a modern American city like New York.

John Collier's unusual and sophisticated short stories are available in an anthology titled Fancies and Goodnights. A few of them, such as "De Mortuis," deal with the same theme of men murdering their wives, but there are many others which are more unique in their concepts. In "Evening Primrose," for example, a young poet who is unable to earn a living with his creative writing poses as a mannequin in a department store during store hours and then lives in leisure and luxury after closing time. In "Green Thoughts," a horticulturist is devoured by one of his plants and becomes one of its blossoms while still retaining his consciousness.