‘A Wasted Hour’ | Analytical essay

Life experience is the experience you gain through living. But what does “living” mean? This question has been debated and considered many times in books, movies, and many other mediums.

In Jeffrey Archer’s short story from 2017, he gives us an example of how life’s many experiences have shaped an old man’s life and what living meant to him.

The story is set in California on the way to Stanford University. In this analytical essay, I will focus on narration, characterization, theme, and message.

The short story is told by a third-person narrator. The narrator is not part of the story and has limited knowledge. The narrator’s knowledge is limited since we only have access to Kelley’s thoughts and background, not John’s.

This is another reason why she prefers hitchhiking instead of taking the train. “Kelley also had golden rules about who she wouldn’t accept a ride from.”

This quote shows the reader that while Kelley is curious and not afraid to get in a car with a total stranger, she is also cautious about her transport.

Truck drivers and young men are off-limits, and she instantly rejects them when they drive by her as we see in lines 25-26: “The next vehicle to pull over was a truck, but she didn’t even look up at the driver, just continued walking.”.

Even though Kelley is eager to meet new people her own safety is her top priority. John is the man who picks Kelley up on the freeway. He ticks all of Kelley’s boxes.

He is “over sixty, wearing a wedding ring, well-spoken and polite” (lines 38-39). These traits are shown throughout the story when he maintains a kind but respectful demeanor towards Kelley, e.g. when he asks her what she is majoring in in line 51: ”What are you majoring in, Kelley?’ he asked.”.

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