Themes and message


Taking responsibility for one’s actions is one of the themes in Raymond Carver’s short story “Jerry and Molly and Sam”. Throughout the story, Al refuses to take responsibility for his own mistakes, blaming his failings on various circumstances. He justifies his affair with Jill, since he was “depressed and jittery” (p. 116, l. 35) and acts as if the relationship is now beyond his control. He also blames his inability to pick up Molly on being depressed (p. 122, ll. 32-34). Moreover, his dream of his childhood and his desire to be back at his mother’s house and never leave again further suggest his wish to avoid responsibility.

At the same time, Al’s intention of getting rid of the family dog is his way of refusing to take responsibility for his actions. While Al believes he is taking the first step towards fixing things, his logic is twisted, and he has come to see the dog as the embodiment of all his problems. Although there is a point in the story when Al seems ready to fix his mistakes in his attempts to find Suzy, he will end up refusing to take responsibility for his actions once more. When Suzy refuses to come to ...

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