The short story begins with two men entering Henry’s lunchroom. They sit down at the counter, and the waiter, George, asks them what they want to eat, but they do not know:

‘I don't know,’ one of the men said. ‘What do you want to eat, Al?’
‘I don't know,’ said Al. ‘I don't know what I want to eat.’ (ll. 3-4)

Their identical responses could be considered a foreshadowing element for the fact that the men look and behave in a similar manner.

The story continues with a description of the setti…



The middle develops the rising action, as the dialogue between the characters begins to become more tense. The two men mockingly discuss the town, which is called Summit, and what locals must do there (ll. 33-34). This creates a backstory about them, as it shows that they are not locals. The dialogue marks a tension point in the story, as Al apparently feels challenged by George looking at him (ll. 57-60).

Suddenly, Max orders Nick Adams to move to the other side of the counter with George, creating tension. They also make George call out Sam, the cook, from the kitchen, increasing the tension in the story. In the main dining area, George and Max sit on opposite sides of the counter. Here, we also learn a backstory about Henry’s lunchroom: “Henry's had been made over from a saloon into a lunch counter.” (l. 97)

George insists on learning what the men want…



In the falling action, Nick goes back to Henry’s and tells George about Andreson’s decision to do nothing. George assumes that Andreson must have gotten in trouble in Chicago (l. 283) by double crossing somebody (l. 288). This contributes to his backstory.

Nick then announces that he will leave Summit (l. 290) and explains his decision: “ ‘I can't stand to think about him waiting in the room and knowing he's going to get it. It's too damned awful’ ” (ll. 292-293). This is the resol…

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