Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Change” is a complex, penetrating vision of the complicated modern human being who hardly knows his own identity. The modern man in “Change” can participate to some extent in the joyous discoveries of his family, especially the baby boy who soon rises “from that indrawn center of internal listening” and lives and laughs without inhibitions. The narrator walls himself in and finds difficulty in knowing who he is and what he is to do.

Amid all the changes about him, he observes others busy with their own lives, apparently having found their exact niche, but he is unable to establish his place. Others work with purpose; he always intends to do something. What to do with his work, his faith, and his relation to others are problems for the narrator—this modern human being.

Modern human beings see the hopeful and positive; they also see the painful and negative, but what they are to be or to do in the midst of a confused world is almost impossible to know.

Perhaps there is also an expressed concern for the artist in this short story. What must the artist do in a world in which there is violence on all levels? How can he do his work as an artist in such circumstances? Does the artist have a responsibility to fulfill to a disturbed and violent world in ways other than through his writing?