Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“No One’s a Mystery” is a brief, sharply detailed distillation of a doomed relationship between two people of contrasting personalities. In five minutes—the time it takes to read the story—Jack and his young lover not only come to terms with their relationship but also illuminate aspects of their own characters of which they themselves are not fully aware. The story is more of a character sketch than a traditional tale containing a beginning, a middle, and an end. The sequence of events is less important than the specific detail and the dialogue between the couple.

Jack is the older of the two; his marriage to a woman who always drives at the speed limit is one of boredom and safety. His breakneck speed and the general unkemptness of him and his truck are outward signs of his own emotional turmoil, his need to be free, irresponsible, socially and morally unsafe. He is a man of no illusions. He knows, as he tells the narrator, that their fling will not last; she will forget him in a few years’ time. Jack is vague about details—details, after all, epitomize social routine. He knows what he will have for supper, knows what the narrator will write in her diary, knows that this affair is simply a matter of filling the empty time on his hands. Aside from these generalities, he makes no judgments and demands no commitment, even mocking the narrator’s version of their future together. His remark that the sky is empty carries a double meaning: In...

(The entire section is 576 words.)