The plot of the short story "The Japanese Quince" by John Galsworthy is simple. A man named Mr. Nilson gets up on a spring morning and smells something different in the air. The sensation is unfamiliar, so at first he thinks that he might be sick. However, when...
The plot of the short story "The Japanese Quince" by John Galsworthy is simple. A man named Mr. Nilson gets up on a spring morning and smells something different in the air. The sensation is unfamiliar, so at first he thinks that he might be sick. However, when he goes out to take a stroll in his garden, he realizes that the scent comes from a tree in blossom, a Japanese quince. He enjoys the sensation of being alone in the garden, but then realizes that his neighbor, Mr. Tandram, is also standing and observing the quince tree. They have lived next to each other for five years, but this occasion is the first time they have ever spoken. They exchange pleasantries about the tree. Mr. Nilson notices that Tandram has facial features similar to his and is dressed like him, almost as if he is seeing a mirror image of himself. He abruptly gets uncomfortable and goes back to his house, being careful not to arrive at the same time as his neighbor. They each take a last look at the Japanese quince before going indoors.
The theme of the story is more complex than its simple plot seems to indicate. It has to do with the difference between the appearances we put on for others and what we are genuinely like. Mr. Nilson, as Galsworthy makes clear in the first sentence, is "well known in the City," being some sort of businessman who meditates on the price of items first thing in the morning and carefully observes himself in the mirror to be sure that his appearance is proper. He is so devoted to formality that he even puts on a frock coat before breakfast. The reason he has never met his next-door neighbor, even though they have been sharing a garden for so long, may be that they have never been formally introduced. However, the lovely sight of the Japanese quince tree temporarily breaks down his mannerisms and defenses and he experiences a brief moment of genuine joy. This is a type of vulnerability, and he is unwilling to expose this vulnerability to his neighbor, so he retreats to his home to protect himself.
In your question, you indicate that you are to choose a statement that analyzes how the author's portrayal of Mr. Nilson advances the plot and theme. Since you have not provided options, hopefully this summary of the plot and theme will help you select the right answer if you have been given a list, or to find a relevant passage from the story if not.