(Short Stories for Students)

Alienation and Loneliness
Whether Wallace's fantastic tale about the garden is true is of less significance than the fact that it is a metaphor for his alienation and loneliness. Wallace's mother died when he was born, and his father was stern and expected great things of him. The treatment Wallace received as a child forced him to retreat into a private world of imagination. The only place where he could find love and attention was through the door in the wall. Wallace was forced as a child to repress his imagination:"I tried to tell them, and my father gave me my first thrashing for telling lies. When afterwards I tried to tell my aunt, she punished me again for my wicked persistence. Then ... everyone was forbidden to listen to me, to hear a word about it." B ecause he had to retreat into a private world just so he could use his imagination, alienation and loneliness became familiar feelings for Wallace. These feelings persist throughout his life and make it difficult for him to connect with other people.

Sanity and Insanity
At first, Redmond does not know if he should believe his friend's wild tale. "But whether he himself saw, or only thought he saw, whether he himself was the possessor of an inestimable privilege, or the victim of a fantastic dream, I cannot pretend to guess." The reader is more willing to believe Wallace's fantastic story because it is filtered through the sensible, "sane" voice of the narrator. Redmond fits the preconceived notion of a sane person in that he seems to have a normal, healthy mind, makes sound, rational judgments, and shows good sense. Wallace seems just as sane at first; he does not fit the stereotype of an insane person because he holds a prestigious job and seems successful. Wells's intention was not to develop an insane character but to show the consequences of having to separate the various components of one's personality. As a child, Wallace...

(The entire section is 786 words.)