The Box Man is a short but impressive story written by Barbara Ascher, who is known for her prominent essays. It deliberately has a simple plot telling about one evening spent by a homeless man. The essay includes the narrator’s memories and comparisons made to contrast the lifestyles of others. Although it is only three pages long, this piece of literature amazes by its rhetorical strategies and stylistic devices that perfectly respond to the challenge of portraying Ascher’s message that is accepting loneliness.
The main topic of this essay is loneliness and the urge for its reconsideration. Despite being social creatures, individuals very often face solitude during different stages of their life. Ascher encourages us to view this phenomenon more simply and “find a friend in our own voice” (108). It means that it is essential to listen to oneself as life can be considered as a solo voyage. She also emphasizes that there is a significant difference between aloneness and loneliness, between individuals who choose and want to live in solitude and those who are forced to stay alone. The Box man enjoys his lonely way of living and does not want to change it, while two senior women did not opt for it. They do not accept loneliness what leads to a miserable life; thus, everybody should listen to themselves and not be afraid of solitude.
The wider subject is the nature of humanity and the modern world that became more egocentric in social life terms. Ascher contrasts the life of the homeless man and two retired senior women. She describes it in a way that makes the reader be happy for the Box man and feel sorry for women that have a roof over their heads. The author lists the main social reasons why they remained alone, including aging, their busy children, and retirement. The general audience relates to such information and ideas as they can find themselves in it.
To conclude, The Box Man is a persuasive and still relevant essay that should be read by every person. It inspires readers to sort themselves out, to decide on the individual life course, and even find pleasure in solitude because it is more or less a part of every life. I like this essay because it is short but rich in terms of ideas related to human nature and the purpose of human life.
Ascher, Barbara. Playing After Dark. Harpercollins, 1987.