Penelope Fitzgerald

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What significant change occurs in the employee in "The Axe" by Penelope Fitzgerald?

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The significant change of the employee in "The Axe" by Penelope Fitzgerald is a descent into a depression that leads to his committing suicide.

The employee in question, a Mr. Singlebury, is about to be made redundant after many years of loyal service to his company. When he finds out that he's about to be let go, he invites the Manager—the narrator of the story—round to his tiny flat one evening for a meal.

The evening is a bit of a drag for the Manager, though he does find out that Mr. Singlebury's forthcoming redundancy has affected him much more seriously than he'd let on when the redundancies were formally announced. The Manager had put Singlebury's relative calm on being notified of his redundancy down to shock.

As Singlebury sees the Manager off at the bus-stop, he casually says that he doesn't see how he can manage if he really has to go, that is to say, be let go by the company. This seemingly off-hand remark reinforces what we already know: that Singlebury's job is his life and that without that job, he will have no life—literally as well as figuratively.

That Singlebury isn't being over-dramatic is confirmed by his subsequent suicide and his coming back to haunt his old office as a ghost.

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