(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

After having been lovers for a year, a girl and a man embark on a two-week vacation, but by the end of the first day they discover more about themselves than most couples discover in a lifetime. The mechanism of discovery is the hitchhiking game, a game in which role-playing takes on a dangerous and irreversible intensity.

The “girl” is twenty-two, shy, jealous, uncomfortable with her body, and embarrassed by her need to use the bathroom. However, she trusts her lover “wholly,” because “he never separated her body from her soul.” When she pretends to be a hitchhiker whom her lover picks up, she leaves behind her shy, embarrassed self, and takes on a role “out of trashy literature.” She becomes a seductress and slips into “this silly, romantic part with an ease that astonished her and held her spellbound.”

The twenty-eight-year-old man is not only older but also considerably more worldly than the girl. A former playboy who believes that he knows “everything that a man could know about women,” this man admires his current lover for what his previous lovers have lacked: purity. He is, therefore, surprised and angry when the girl assumes her new role; he is furious with her for “refusing to be herself when that was what he wanted.” His anger, in turn, makes him adopt the role of “a heartless tough guy,” and he becomes willful, sarcastic, and mean. In an act of defiance directed at both his communistic country and...

(The entire section is 542 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

The story begins with a young couple, on the first day of their vacation, driving along the road in the young man's sports car. Although they...

(The entire section is 734 words.)