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Tallent’s “No One’s A Mystery” shows the complications that arise when an older, married man who has a child, shows a young woman romantic attention. The narrator, an eighteen-year-old girl, is infatuated with Jack, who is having an affair with the narrator behind his wife’s back. The narrator does not understand the consequences of her and Jack’s relationship because she is immature in a way to where she only thinks in the present moment. She does not feel guilty about sneaking around Jack’s wife, who has no clue that he is cheating on her with a younger woman. Although Jack might feel a romantic attachment to the narrator, he does not allow himself to believe that his relationship with her will last. It seems as though Jack is comfortable staying with his wife and wishes to continue to “have his cake and eat it too.” Jack likes the predictability of his marriage, “I just know… Like I know I’m going to get meatloaf for supper” (48)  because, in that, he feels safe and secure that he will always have someone waiting for him.

In the first sentence of the story, the narrator states that the journal Jack gives her for her birthday is “light as a dime.” (47) I see this as a possible representation for how Jack feels about his relationship with the narrator– light as a dime–not putting any weight or specific meaning into it. Rather, it appears that Jack is so calm about the situation because he has possibly done this before with other women.

During the ending conversation between Jack and the narrator, the narrator is optimistic about her future with Jack because she is so caught up with feeling in love with him. Jack shuts down the narrator’s optimism for the future due to the fact that he is already settled down and has a child. This story shows the complexity of relationships between people when they are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Jack is intrigued with the narrator because of her youthful innocence, which makes him feel of greater importance due to the way the narrator looks up to him. The narrator is infatuated with Jack because he makes her feel more like a grown woman. Each character plays off of the other by filling a void in which they lack. Jack needs to feel important or even possibly have a fresh start, and the narrator, just beginning her adult life, wants to experience love, romance, and sexuality in relationships.

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