Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Thomas is the most sharply and clearly drawn of all the characters. Reinforcing the fact that he and Mildred live a life dominated by the intellect, not by the senses, none of the family members is described physically. The only character for whom Targan provides any physical description is Fay, and then only a few words when Thomas goes to meet her at her friend’s apartment. Further distancing Thomas from the physical and sexual dimension, Targan does not indicate whether Thomas enjoys having sex with Fay, or whether it was more exciting than his sex life with Mildred, who is apparently his only previous sexual partner. The reader only learns that he leaves Fay soon after the act, feeling neither guilt nor exuberance. He reflects that taking this risk gives him a sense of accomplishment similar to what he feels when he has an article accepted for publication in Seventeenth Century Studies: “Then and now his life seemed stronger, better balanced . . . running on evenly, well tuned, which was all that life was supposed to do.”

Lines from the poetry of the seventeenth century authors in whom Thomas specializes are integrated throughout the story. The title is from John Donne’s poem, “The Sunne Rising”: “Love, all alike, no season knowes, nor clyme,/ Nor houres, dayes, moneths, which are the rags of time.” These lines appear in the story in one of the quotes that Fay uses to rebut Thomas during their first argument in his office.