Children and Grandchildren
Near the close of the story, the main character is visited by his grown children and their children, though he does not remember ever having had children (‘‘I must have had them yesterday,’’ he muses). When they arrive for their visit, the grandchildren are small; just minutes later, the grown children have gray hair and the grandchildren have grown up. They are affectionate and loving; it is clear they know him well, even though he does not remember them.
The main character first encounters his fiance´ e/ wife when he sees her photograph in the old wallet he finds in his pocket. In the photograph, she is dressed only in a swim suit (‘‘almost naked’’) and has her arms raised in greeting. Though he does not recognize her, when he looks at the photo he has ‘‘a certain feeling of pain’’ and he senses that he is the one to whom she is waving. Later, when he comes to his house, he finds her in person, lying on the bed in the bedroom; the next morning, she is gone.
The nameless main character of the story knows little about himself or where he is. He is bewildered and uncertain, and he feels inadequate in the face of others’ certainty and confidence: ‘‘They’re without the slightest hesitancy, so naturally convinced are they that they must do what they’re doing.’’ He concludes that, because they are so confident, must be in the wrong, and the others must quite assuredly be in the right.’’ Though he feels no such certainty, he does his best to fit in: ‘‘I must contrive to act like the others.’’
The character learns about himself at the same time as the reader does. He remembers that he is a hard worker (‘‘I’ve always worked, worked very hard’’) and discovers that he has a fiance´ e and plenty of money. He is treated with deference and admiration at both the restaurant and the bank, indicating that he is a man of some stature in the community (the restaurant’s proprietor characterizes him as ‘‘important and respectable.’’) A chauffeur drives him to his impressive home, where he meets his wife and children, none of whom he remembers. He is a stranger to his own life. With no knowledge of his life or the people in it, he is completely at the mercy of those around him, who seem to know much more about him than he knows of himself.
At the restaurant, the main character first discovers that he is a man of some consequence in the community. The proprietor treats him with great respect, and shows him where to take his old banknote for exchange.
Sara Constantakis – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 31, Luigi Pirandello, Published by Gale Group, 2010