Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Although “Eating Naked” is realistic in its depiction of events, it uses symbolism to help advance the story and to communicate the main character’s progress toward resolution. Images of roads and road travel prove to be especially significant throughout. Bob is traveling between cities, thinking about a marriage that seems over, while Laura travels the same road, thinking about her boyfriend’s life which possibly is over. Bob later compares his life to going through a tunnel, with no option of turning. When he takes Laura toward her boyfriend’s house, she offers him the option of going straight ahead and just letting her off at the turn. Instead, he takes the turn with her. When he later considers how his wife would look at the three of them around the dinner table, sitting naked before the feast, he imagines her thinking he had “gone right around the bend.” By the end, however, he finds his “life had gotten back on track.”

Car headlights also serve a symbolic function. Headlights normally help a driver see straight down a road. After the accident, however, one headlight of Bob’s truck is broken. When Laura then has her accident, the same thing happens: One headlight breaks, while the other shines up into the surrounding pines. The truck’s remaining headlight is sufficient for steering it to Chuckie’s house and also for illuminating the scene when Bob is gutting the deer. However, symbolically, one headlight is clearly inadequate...

(The entire section is 452 words.)