Outer characterization

Al is the main character in Raymond Carver’s short story “Jerry and Molly and Sam”. His outer characterization is not very detailed, as the story focuses more on his thoughts and actions. He is, however, described briefly when he looks at himself in the mirror: “his face doughy, characterless – immoral that was the word” (p. 125, ll. 21-22) We also know that he is 31 years old (p. 117, l. 20) and that he has “a tiny bald spot” (p. 117, l. 16).

Al works at Aerojet, a company specializing in defense contracts (p. 117, l. 14). He is married to Betty and has two children with her, Alex and Mary. He also has a mistress, Jill. There are hints throughout the story that Al is an alcoholic and that he might be suffering from depression.

Inner characterization

Since the story follows Al’s perspective of events, his thoughts and feelings are described in detail, giving the reader an insight into his personality. The short story is trying to draw attention to his actions, and his way of justifying them, pointing to the character’s inner conflict.

At the start of the story, Al is mostly defined by his determination to get rid of the family dog: “As Al sa...

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