Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

As he so often does, Singer has woven a complex message into a seemingly simple tale. “The Admirer” finally—and finely—questions the narrator’s ability to judge and perceive. Perhaps Providence does intervene to save him from the destruction that befell Oliver Leslie de Sollar. Certainly, the narrator would not have been able to save himself because he repeatedly demonstrates his lack of judgment. He mistakes Dr. Jeffrey Lifshitz for Mr. de Sollar. He misdiagnoses Elizabeth’s fit. He gets no answer when he knocks on his typesetter’s door because he has sought him on the wrong floor.

However, is the narrator saved? Might he be wrong to reject Elizabeth, who offers services he needs? His apartment is a mess, and his larder is decidedly limited. Because Singer tells the story through the filter of a first-person narrator who is obviously flawed, the reader cannot be certain that sending Elizabeth away is the right decision.

Like the narrator, the reader must decide about Elizabeth. He knows no more than “I”; for the reader, as for the narrator, Elizabeth comes and then vanishes, leaving behind questions about herself. Ultimately, she also leaves doubts about the realms of appearance and reality.