Dorothy Parker

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Analyze the characters in "The Telephone Call" by Dorothy Parker.

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The chief characters mentioned in Dorothy Parker's short story, "The Telephone Call" are the narrator, her love interest, and God.

The narrator--

Bordering on the neurotic, the narrator is desperate for her love...

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interest, a man at her office, to call her.  The entire story circles around her inner debate of waiting for his phone call, wondering if he will call her, and debating on whether or not she should call him.  Based on the ramblings of her innermonologue, the reader can determine that the narrator is indecisive, obsessive, illogical, and has no will-power whatsoever.  She attempts to rationalize her erratic behavior of waiting by the phone by praying to God for wisdom and leadership, but in reality, she only listens to her own desires and feelings of self-pity.

The Love Interest--

Although he never materializes in the story, the narrator's love interest plays a significant role.  His affectionate moniker of 'darling' has convinced the protagonist of his feelings for her, and she fluctuates between feelings of adoration for him and loathing over the fact that he has not called her.  The reader never finds out of if the man calls; Parker leaves the ending open for interpretation.  Is the young man honorable and going to call, or is he merely a flirt and insensitive to the feelings of an impressionable young woman?  The narrator's unreliable perspective makes it extremely difficult to define his character.


Called upon frequently by the narrator, God never responds to her requests or honors her 'deals' or counting.  The narrator's view of God reveals her own lack of faith and selfish thinking.  In the narrator's mind, her view of God is one that centers on the idea of punishment, hell, and rewards.  This limited view of God seems like a prize machine, one that would reward prizes for good behavior and dole out punishments, such as the love interest not calling, for bad behavior.  Her incessant whining to God annoys the reader, because her shallow requests seem more like an attempt to rationalize her behavior and choices than an actual attempt to connect spiritually to God.

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