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Character analysis of Bill Miller in the short story "Neighbors" by Raymond Carver

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Bill Miller is one of the main characters in the moral based story “Neighbors” by Raymond Carver. The second main character is his wife Arlene. They are fond of Stones, their neighbors and friends. It is to be noted that Millers live very boring life. Bill regrets for their uninteresting evenings and pretends to live the life of Stones while they are on a trip.

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Bill Miller might be described as a vulnerable and confused person. He has a difficult time trying to find his own identity. Bill Miller is an easily influenced character. The things he finds in Stones’ apartments impresses him very much. He becomes obsessed with their life. In accordance with the story, it is seen that he is curious about things that identify other people. He even pretends to be a woman. It is shown in an episode when he tries on women’s clothes. Bill’s ability to be easily manipulated and confused makes him vulnerable to changes. Despite the fact that the narrator at the beginning of the story says that Millers are a happy couple, the story proves the opposite.

The Millers, either Bill or Arlene compare themselves to their neighbors, the Stones. Millers decide that Stones live brighter life than they do. That is why all their next actions are motivated by jealousy. It seems to me, that Bill Miller, as any unsatisfied with the life person, felt sorry for lost opportunities and abilities. However, his main problem is that he does not try to change something. The only thing he does is fumbling in neighbor’s flat.  Moreover, the Millers understand that they want to live Stone’s way of life, but they still are sitting at home, even though this time it is the Stone’s place. The behavior of Bill Miller and his wife is quite odd; their obsession makes them live the life, which belongs to Stones. Bill becomes addicted to the neighbor’s place. He can’t think about anything else except for Stone’s apartment. Bill even refuses to go to work. The only thing he can do is to be at Stones’ place. This situation was a great test for Bill from the very beginning. He tries to stop thinking about the next door apartment. He makes an attempt to start a book, but that doesn’t work. After this, he goes out for a walk which makes him feel better for a while. All of the above-mentioned mean that Bill becomes completely obsessed. When he is outside everything is okay, but as soon as he enters the building all his thoughts are conccentrated on Stones’ apartment. First time, Bill even tries to excuse for his unmoral behavior, but he can do nothing about it so he enters the neighbors’ flat again and again.  

The author of the story shows the reader the changes that take place in Bill’s personality from the first enter into Stone’s flat to the loss of keys. The imaginative life he found in Stones’ apartments attracts him much more than the reality.

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This story describes Millers desire to take the place of their neighbors and to have the life they craved. Unfortunately, they will never be able to take the Stones’ place. People of Millers’ kind will always remain unsatisfied with their life. They choose to complain and to remain disappointed rather than to make efforts and vary their weekdays. However, the story with Stone’s apartment prompted them to make some conclusions and to start valuing their own family.  

The moral is that people should not pretend to be somebody else, and should not want what belongs to others. One should not be jealous about other people’ lives.  Instead one should start looking for good things in own life.

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