(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

George Dane, a writer whose success has brought with it a tremendous amount of responsibility in the form of increasingly more reading and writing to be done, wakes up one morning feeling overwhelmed by all the paperwork on his desk. The rain during the night has not washed away the work waiting to be done, the sentence waiting to be completed. Brown, his servant, enters the study to remind him of an engagement and inquire about his luncheon plans. Dane would rather not be bothered. Brown’s distractedness leads them to talk at cross-purposes until Dane intones, “There is a happy land—far far away!” Brown is concerned that Dane is not well. On Dane’s reassurance, Brown introduces a young man, whose name Dane does not catch, into the room. The story’s first scene ends as they shake hands.

The remaining four scenes take place within Dane’s dream until he wakes up for the story’s last few paragraphs. The second scene begins with Dane feeling as if he is experiencing the rebirth of consciousness in a place of infinite charm, peace, and freshness: the “great good place” of the title. Author Henry James dramatizes the growth of Dane’s consciousness through the successive scenes until Dane awakens to the everyday world. Within the dream, Dane is first vaguely aware of a place defined as “such an abyss of negatives, such an absence of everything.” Out of a general feeling of peace and contentment, he develops self-consciousness as he becomes aware of a shadowy, human-like figure who seems to be sharing a bath with him. This figure is a “Brother,” one who shares...

(The entire section is 651 words.)