Analyse “Dead As They Come” by Ian McEwan

A wealthy man falls in love with a clothing store mannequin. After months of looking at the mannequin in the window, he decides to purchase the mannequin after making up a story about the mannequin and its clothes being a gift for his wife. The man names the mannequin Helen and, in his mind,, he is convinced that the two of them belong together.

These events are shown in the short story “Dead As They Come” By Ian McEwan from 1977. The novel focuses on this middle-aged rich man that can’t emotionally connect with real women anymore and that a man who supposedly has it all has his problems as well and that money and wealth isn’t everything in life. Instead of trying to get in a real relationship, the protagonist chooses to buy a mannequin and creates a relationship with a lifeless object which he treats as a real person.

“But things began to go wrong and I can remember vividly the day it all began” ll. 30-31, page 37. This is around the same time the conflict begins to take place “I could stand it no more. I stopped mid-sentence and stood up. I walked out the room, slamming the door behind me” This is where the protagonist gets in an internal conflict, an internal conflict is a man vs. self-struggle.

The ending of the short story is quite surprising and unexpected, he doesn’t just kill Helen the mannequin, but he goes on a rampage and chooses to destroy all of his precious possessions. Ian McEwan chose to make an open and ambiguous ending, as we don’t really know what happened to him after he kills the mannequin, other than he went crazy and chose to destroy all of his precious possessions.

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