Loneliness And Solitude In Barbara Lazear Ascher's The Box Man

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Being alone and being in solitude are very different things. In a story about people who seem to be both, Barbara Lazear Ascher shows how some people chose and enjoy their solitude, while others are left to fend for themselves alone. The author explains the difference between embracing loneliness and despising it through multiple characters who each chose to accept what society has given them or reflect on the life they have chosen. The Box Man enjoys searching for boxes and the boxes comfort him. The lady in the cafe repeat the same routine daily, without emotion. The woman across the street from the narrator lives with her cats and watches her tv into the early morning. Each character in the story has a particular routine and sticks to it, which supports the concepts of loneliness and solitude in this story.

The Box Man searches for boxes every night and brings them home like a collector would. He fuels his imagination with them, according to the narrator, and comfort him and help him to “organize a life,” (Ascher 2). He also has a routine when he brings home his boxes for the evening, and sits on the
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Every night she orders a bowl of soup and while breaking saltines, “she drags it out as long as possible, breaking the crackers into smaller and smaller pieces,[...]” (Ascher 3). After she is done with her soup, the narrator comments on how empty the rest of her night will be. One interesting thing about this woman isn’t only that she came to the cafe alone, but she has nothing in her purse, like pictures of her family or anything personal. The author says everything in her life is normal. She gets a boring Christmas letter annually, and her retirement party was like any other. If she chose to be lonely, she must regret the decision. The woman across the street from the narrator is lonely as well, but she doesn’t even go
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