What is the significance of Miss Dent’s handwriting in "The Five-Forty-Eight"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In this 1954 short story for The New Yorker, John Cheever writes of a man who uses and throws away women—in this particular case, a Miss Dent, who he says lacks "self-esteem"—and therefore can't, he believes, fight back against him.

He hires the seemingly shy, soft, pretty, dark-haired Miss Dent as his secretary and, from the start, dislikes her handwriting, although she is competent in other ways:

He could not associate the crudeness of her handwriting with her appearance. He would have expected her to write a rounded backhand, and in her writing there were intermittent traces of this, mixed with clumsy printing. Her writing gave him the feeling that she had been the victim of some inner—some emotional—conflict that had in its violence broken the continuity of the lines she was able to make on paper.

Nevertheless, his goal is sexual conquest, so he ignores the handwriting. He sleeps with her after three weeks. She cries afterwards, which he disregards, as he feels too warm and...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 665 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on