Lyle, the man in “The Man with the Lapdog,” has been living in Galway, Ireland, for two years after his retirement. He does not particularly like the Irish people, who he thinks stand too close, but there is a lot about Ireland he does like: He likes going for walks and he likes being a foreigner. Moreover, he feels displaced and distant from his Irish wife.
One morning he meets an American couple on one of his walks with his dog. Although it is March, not the regular tourist season, Mark and Laura are on vacation for three weeks. The couple is friendly, and Lyle is particularly taken by the woman, who is just entering middle age with “none of the artificiality of so many American women.” Mark, who is obviously ill, has lost his hair and his face looks swollen, but something about the way the couple looks together makes Lyle remember the pleasure of walking with his wife in the same way, a pleasure he no longer feels.
When Lyle tells his wife about the American couple, he wants to avoid any reference to their sons, especially Jimmy, who lives in the United States and does not visit often. Although Laura told him that Mark was dying, he does not tell his wife that. While his wife chats about how she hates motels and sleeping in other people’s beds, for she could feel the warmth of those who had slept in them before, Lyle can only feel the sweet warmth that a woman left in a bed, and he knows the woman is Laura. He makes a nasty retort...
(The entire section is 591 words.)