Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 462
A neat and clean-shaven young man is taking the subway to Manhattan to begin his first day on the first regular job he has ever had. He feels happy, thanks to his new status as a middle-class office worker, the prospect of being able to buy things that he has...
(The entire section contains 462 words.)
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A neat and clean-shaven young man is taking the subway to Manhattan to begin his first day on the first regular job he has ever had. He feels happy, thanks to his new status as a middle-class office worker, the prospect of being able to buy things that he has always wanted, and the day’s invigorating weather. Indeed, he is in love with the whole world because of the optimism and self-confidence infused by his new career. When he spots a beautiful young blond, who is evidently out shopping with her mother, he is so strongly attracted that he cannot help staring.
The blond notices the young man’s attention and complains to her mother, who simply explains, “He’s in love with you.” The young man then seizes an opportunity to sit next to the blond and starts a conversation by saying, “I’m in love with you.” Although he has never met her before, he proposes marriage on the spot. Neither woman is surprised by this abrupt proposal. Neither displays any emotion. Both are interested only in learning whether the eager young man is a good catch. The blond asks if he has a job and what his future prospects are, but the naïve suitor has only the vaguest idea of what his work will entail. All he knows is that he will have his own desk and handle a lot of paperwork. However, he says that he is getting a good salary and that he intends to work his way up in the company.
The mother is especially concerned about the young man’s ability to be a good provider. She asks him why he wants to marry her daughter. He merely answers that the daughter is pretty and that he is in love with her. “Is that all?” the mother asks. “I guess so,” he answers. “Is there supposed to be more?” “Not usually,” the mother answers.
When the mother feels satisfied that the young man really is in love—or at least that he has convinced himself that he is—and that he fully intends to provide a good lifestyle for her daughter, she invites him to propose to her daughter again. The young woman, who appears to be entirely dependent on her mother’s direction, then accepts his proposal. The other passengers in the subway car have all been listening to this interchange like an audience in a movie theater. When the blond accepts the young man’s proposal, everyone smiles and applauds.
The conductor approaches the couple with a Bible in his hand, ready to perform a marriage ceremony on the spot. Like everything else in the story, it must be performed quickly, because the train is nearing the end of the line.