The Arcade

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Arcade” by Alan Gillespie (2020), which has been used for a written exam in English STX A on the 25th of May 2022. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it. We recommend you start with our study questions.

If you need help with Assignments 1-3 from the STX A exam on the 25th of May 2022, you can check out our guide here.

Here you can read an extract from our study guide:

The story explores the theme of aging by looking at Bill and Gaynor, two elderly people who go on their first date together. The physical description of the main characters points several times to the fact that they are aging, as they have grey hair (l. 5) and wrinkled skin (l. 103). 

The fake stories that they make up for themselves follow a couple’s typical life together: from engagement, to their silver wedding anniversary, and to retirement. Though their date only lasts a couple of hours, Bill and Gaynor create an entire life for themselves which hints at the idea that it might be too late for them to get to experience all these moments again with a new partner. 

Gaynor’s comments about remarrying also highlight the theme of aging. She mentions that she considered remarrying but did not find anyone else who wanted this, which suggests that people might be reluctant to remarry at an older age. However, Bill tells Gaynor that she is “still young enough” (l. 150) and there is still time for her to remarry. Though these may be Bill’s real feelings, it could also be that he is unwilling to accept his aging and still clings to the perfect fictional life that the Arcade has allowed him to step into. 

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The Arcade

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