Response to Literature: “The Elevator” Par·a·noi·a- noun. A mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts. In the short story “The Elevator,” William Sleator uses fear and paranoia to drive his main character to a compelling resolution. The main character’s (Martin’s) fear of elevators created an imaginary obese monstrous woman who intimidates him every time he rides the tiny exhausted elevator. In the beginning of “The Elevator,” the setting is set up at a decrepit building with eighteen floors.
The elevator is the root of fear for the weak, thin Martin. Sleator implies this by writing, “Of course he always felt uncomfortable in elevators, afraid that they would fall, but this one was especially unpleasant. ” By stating this, it proves that Martin already had a mild phobia of elevators and the fact of this matter is that this particular elevator appeared to be very worn out and only big enough to hold 2 people. When he first encounters a gargantuan woman on the elevator, at first he is disturbed and then mentally disturbed for the rest of the day until he encounters her again after school ends.
After every confrontation, Martin’s anxiety grows. In the rising action of this horror story, immediately after Martin spots the plump lady already on the elevator again, he bolts down the stairs. In the process, he snaps his leg while sealing his unfortunate fate. Sleator expressed, “Martin had broken his leg and needed to walk on crutches. He could not use the stairs now. Was that why the fat lady had smiled? Did she know what would happen? ” He broke his leg, which means that he is obligated to use the elevator.
Now he will have more confrontations with his worst nightmare. His fear of this woman is what caused him to run away from her in the elevator and break his leg. Finally, in the climax, Martin is abandoned by his father and left alone in the elevator. Before long, the whale-like woman gets on the elevator and corners Martin. The end is sealed with, “The door closed and the elevator began to move. ‘Hello, Martin,’ she said, and laughed, and pushed the Stop button. ” This quote was important because this is the first time we see the fat lady speak and actually do something.
Her increased actions have instilled an overbearing fear within Martin and have now made him insane. Have you ever had a bad experience with an elevator? Well, in this case, Martin has and his broken leg proves it. His fear evolved every time he rode the elevator. Martin’s fear was shaped into a living nightmare because his phobia was so immense. It drove him to the point of insanity and that is why the story ends at a cliffhanger. If William Sleator didn’t use fear as the focal point, then story wouldn’t be interesting as a horror-based narrative should be.
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