These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community.
We are thankful of their contributions and encourage you to make your own.
Written by Timothy Sexton
Making a Dent
Miss Dent’s name should be taken as a key to situate her as a metaphorical incarnation of all the other women of low self-esteem whom Mr. Blake has exploited over the years. Not a single one of them made so much as a dent in carefully crafted armor of narcissistic denial of reality. All that is about to change with the woman whose name he can barely recall as the story begins, but will not soon forget by the story’s end.
Miss Dent's Handwriting
In a bit of foreshadowing, Blake muses about the psychological underpinning of confused commingling of elegance and primitive handwriting and ponders if the disconnect there is revealing of a deep-seated emotional disconnect. He give little indication that such a mental disconnection would result in a display of violence toward anyone else, so the remembrance of her own displeasure and overreaction seems to be the real focus. In fact, it gradually becomes clear that her handwriting is a metaphorical depiction of jumbled state of mind.
She lived in a room that seemed to him like a closet.
The comparison of the living quarters of Miss Dent during the flashback to their one night stand works on two levels. Blake’s observation of the smallness of the space is a terse insight into the economic divide between them that is a mandatory requirement for someone of his own low self-esteem to ever risk pursuing a sexual rendezvous. The subsequent inevitability of such space being cluttered, on the other hand, becomes something another metaphorical description of what is going on inside Miss Dent’s own psyche. After all, one of the purposes that a closet serves is to hide things about yourself that you don’t want others to see when they come inside.
The coach was old and smelled oddly like a bomb shelter
Here Blake is unwittingly creating an ironic metaphor by creating a simile to put across an immediately tactile description of the interior of the “five-forty-eight.” Blake is looking back to era not far in the past with his recall of the bomb shelters while utterly oblivious to the bomb that is about to detonate in the unexpected form of the inconsequential Miss Lent or Bent or whatever the name of this woman was who wasn’t even capable of making the smallest dent in his everyday routine.
The platform and the people on it looked lonely.
From the first moment he stepped onto the train, Blake has been endowing the means of transportation with figurative language and imagery that is highly suggestive. This effect reaches its peak with the rather strange personification of the platform itself as a separate entity from the people on it. And therein lies its meaning as metaphor. There are passengers on the train who are Blake’s neighbors. It is almost beyond question that there are people on the train he has literally seen almost at least once a week for years. And yet is the machine itself that seems most like a familiar living being to him. Quite possibly the people on the platform actually do look lonely at that moment. It may even be possible that the platform looks lonely. One strongly suspects, however, the platform and those standing on it are metaphorical projections of Mr. Blake’s own internal emotional state. That platform and those people probably would appear just as lonely even Miss Dent had not just threatened him with gun.
Update this section!
You can help us out by revising, improving and updating