Exploring Time In Raymond Carver's Neighbors

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“He remembered when Harriet had come home with the clock, how she had crossed the hall to show it to Arlene, cradling the brass case in her arms and talking to it through the tissue paper as if it were an infant” (Carver 8). Bill Miller recalls this memory of Arlene and the clock when he enters the Stone’s apartment in the 1970 story “Neighbors” by Raymond Carver. Bill and Arlene Miller have agreed to watch the apartment of their neighbors, Jim and Harriet Stone, and the Miller’s activities in their friend’s dwelling is outright snoopy and slightly voyeuristic. Carver compliments the Miller’s outlandish behavior with a minimalist format that focuses the audience attention on the Stone’s household items, like a clock. In “Neighbors,” the…show more content…
Using a clock or proper time is one method of measuring time and I believe a clock is a device most people use every day. A unique perspective in regard to this subject is present in a write-up from The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “We can see a clock, but we cannot see time. Time is what we intend to measure with the clock , but what are we measuring? (Dowden). In the case of “Neighbors,” Carver seems to use proper time specifically to evaluate the minutes that the Miller’s dedicate to house sitting for the Stones. An example of this takes place when the story’s narrator notes for the audience that, “The sunburst clock over the television said half past eight.” The narrator continues with the observation that Bill remembers Harriet with this clock; I am then concluding that Bill not only recognizes the clock, but also the time. This preoccupation by the narrator and Bill in regard to time is also taking place with Arlene when she asks Bill, “What kept you?” (Carver 9), and her husband’s replies “Nothing” (Carver 9). Now, Bill is aware of proper time, so why is his response to his wife so vague? The answer lies in Arlene’s question that is not mirroring the same time measurement as…show more content…
“Proper time therefore depends not only on the events themselves, but also on the motion of the clock between the events” (Mastin). It may seem out of character to look at a clock with such complexity, but it is import to remember that the concept of time ties back to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (Theory). Therefore, if Arlene wants Bills to understand her question about “What kept you?” (Carver 9), she will need to provide Bill with the elapsed time summary of how many minutes it took Bill to travel to the Stone’s apartment and then back home. When Arlene proper time, Bill can remember the time on the Stone’s clock and eventually answer Arlene’s question easily. Ergo, if the Miller’s want to talk about time clearly in day one, they both need to articulate in terms of proper
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