What does Alan think love is in “The Chaser” by John Collier?
Alan Austin is a young man who has fallen in love for the first time. He thinks the woman he loves--but who does not yet love him--is an angel, a dream, the answer to all life's problems. He does not realize, as the old man in the story does, that this kind of romantic love is only a temporary illusion which many people experience during what has been called "that first fine careless rapture." Alan thinks it will last forever, but that sort of love might also be called "the honeymoon stage." Inevitably people realize that the person they married is human and has human faults of one kind or another. By this time many married people have settled into a more realistic relationship based on attachment to their children, common financial interests, shared social relations, mutual toleration, and an alternative to single loneliness.
John Collier, like Ambrose Bierce, Guy de Maupassant, Artur Schopenhauer, and even the great Leo Tolstoy, had a cynical attitude about marriage. Collier wrote a number of short stories in which a man murders his wife. He always treated these stories with a dash of humor, as if to signify that he did not intend them to be taken too literally or too seriously. He also wrote highly imaginative short stories about other subjects. These can be found in a single volume of his collected stories, many of which were originally published in the New Yorker. In one story a young man decides to solve his financial problems by pretending to be a mannequin in a department store.