What are two significant literary elements in "Neighbors" and how are they used?

Quick answer:

The Millers are envious of the Stones because they think that they have a better life than them. The setting is important because it allows Bill to break into the Stone’s apartment and thus have access to the things that he sees.

Expert Answers

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

A literary element is a component of a literary piece.  Two significant components in “Neighbors” by Raymond Carver are characterization and setting.

Characterization is important because at first glance the sets of neighbors seem very much alike.  Bill and Arlene think of themselves as “happy,” but at the same time they compare themselves with their neighbors Harriet and Jim.

It seemed to the Millers that the Stones lived a fuller and brighter life. (p. 1)

So even though they are happy, they are seemingly not happy enough!  The Stones live across the hall, and they go out more.  Since Jim is a salesman, he can take trips.  He seems to enjoy  it, combining business with pleasure.  The Millers are envious of the Stones.

Setting is another important component of the story.  Because the Millers and Stones are neighbors, the Millers can compare themselves to the Stones.  The Stones ask the Millers to water the plants and feed the cat while they are away. This allows Bill to rummage in the Stones’ apartment.

He opened all the cupboards and examined the canned goods, the cereals, the packaged foods, the cocktain and wine glasses, the china, the pots and pans.

He seems obsessed with minor domstic points.

Pages from full text here: http://ebookbrowse.com/neighbors-by-raymond-carver-pdf-d228183807

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial