Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The various dictionary meanings of the word “counterpart” hold the key to the symbolic technique of this story, which proceeds by means of a complex set of corresponding, reduplicative, and complementary elements. Each character in the social scale has his or her counterpart: from Crosbie and Alleyne to Charlie and Tom (“twin” in Aramaic). Ultimately, in one sense or another, all are counterparts of Farrington: his fellow office-workers, his drinking cronies, and his wife (horizontally); Alleyne, Weathers, and Tom (vertically). In addition, each of these latter counterparts is associated with a woman, a different shade of red, and a distinguishing accent. Thus, they are all counterparts of one another. This pattern of correspondences and repetitions embraces the “rounds system” of buying drinks, Farrington’s imitation of Weathers’s taste for Appollinaris (a relatively expensive English mineral water), Farrington’s and Higgins’s retelling of the retort, and O’Halloran’s corresponding experiences at Callan’s of Fownes Street. This structural and symbolic pattern enlarges Farrington’s very ordinary experiences and suggests, among other things, that they are self-perpetuating: The paralysis is contagious. Farrington is scarcely aware of the design of the events that determine his life. This perspective is cleverly suggested, for example, in that every character has a double letter in his or her name, and that Farrington has only a fleeting...

(The entire section is 528 words.)