Structure

Title

The title of Raymond Carver’s short story “Jerry and Molly and Sam” stands out in several ways. First of all, upon seeing the title, the reader is led to believe the story will be about three characters named Jerry, Molly, and Sam. We would probably expect these characters to be the main characters in the story or at least play an important part in it. However, as we begin to read the short story, we realize none of the main characters are named Jerry, Molly, or Sam. The main character’s name is Al (p. 116, l.1) and his wife’s name is Betty (p. 116, l.2). His children are called Alex and Mary (p. 117, l. 22) and his mistress is called Jill (p. 116, l. 30), while the dog is called Suzy (p. 116, l. 4).

Later in the story, we find out that Sam was Al’s dog when he was a child (p. 121, l. 14) and that he was “an Irish setter” (p. 119, l. 7). Sam is only mentioned twice and does not appear in the story. Molly is a girl Al meets in a bar after he abandons Suzy (p. 122, l. 5). She allows Al to share his pizza with her, but will not take the relationship any further, which frustrates Al (p. 122, ll. 30-31). Jerry is a bartender and he is Molly’s friend. According to Molly, Jerry is “good at fixing things” (p. 122, l. 17). Al’s interactions with Jerry are not mentioned explicitly in the story, and, presumably, they are quite brief. It is likely that the three title characters are important for what they represent for...

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