Read real teacher answers to our most interesting The Five-Forty-Eight questions.

Hogamus, Higamus

Hogamus Higamus men are Polygamous,
Higamus Hogamus women Monogamous.

This little rhyming couplet has been attributed to many people, including Dorothy Parker, William James, Ogden Nash, and a Mrs. Amos Pinchot who supposedly heard it in a dream. It contains a truth about men and women which is dramatized in John Cheever's story "The Five-Forty-Eight." Men are more likely than women to look on sex as a form of recreation, a pastime. Women are more likely to be looking for love and a permanent relationship. This is what is meant by "men are polygamous, women monogamous." That was the case with Miss Dent, although Blake must have misunderstood her intentions when she invited him to her little room for a drink. He is undoubtedly a cold, cruel, selfish man, but she must have been expecting too much. She must have known he was married and had a family. Because he was kind enough to give her a job, she wanted to believe he would be the answer to all her life problems. This was undoubtedly not the first time she had been used and forgotten. It may have happened dozens of times in a city like New York, where so many men are looking for "one-night stands" with no commitments. In stalking Blake with a pistol, Miss Dent must have been trying to punish him for her exploitation by all the other men she had known. 

The theme of "The Five-Forty-Eight" has been used in at least two major Hollywood films. One of them is Play Misty for Me (1971), starring Clint Eastwood and Jessica Walter, and the other is Fatal Attraction (1987), starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. Both may have been inspired by John Cheever's classic story, first published in The New Yorker in 1954. In both films the man expects too little and the woman expects too much. The man only wants a brief fling with a woman who turns out to be a psychotic troublemaker, or "crazy-maker," to use a term that has probably gone out of vogue. Many men--and women, too--will remember times in their lives when they got involved with someone out of loneliness or boredom, or possibly curiosity, and then found themselves in a serious predicament. Most of our problems in life are caused by other people. 

Expectations of this world
And the people in it
Are surely the sources
Of our greatest misery.
The Uddhava Gita #3