Many times, the sensuality of life is lost because of technology. It seems that as a result of technology, life is seen differently through human eyes. Many times visions of life and its beauties are altered by technology and a shadow is placed upon all things through this vision. Often times, the only way to escape these views is to be without technology and its influences. The speaker in Raymond Carver’s poem, “The Window”, becomes aware of this fact when he is without electricity and realizes for the first time the beauties of nature.
Initially, Carver’s title, “The Window”, indicates that the poem will be about some sort of window and the way this window may look. After reading the poem, however, one sees that this is not so. In the poem, the speaker actually gives an account of the effect a simple blackout has on him as he looks out of a window. The speaker sees the trees differently, the speaker sees the countryside differently, and the speaker as a result begins to analyze himself differently.
Carver’s poem is especially effective because of the point of view through which he presents it. “The Window” is brought to its readers through first person point of view. This use of the first person point of view allows Carver to step back from the story and have less of an interpretive influence. What emerges is the importance of individual perception. Had Carver presented the poem from a third person point of view, it would seem that he was viewing the scenes from the outside and the feelings from the narrator would have been less effective as those coming directly from the speaker. In “The Window”, the speaker tells the reader exactly what he feels when the electricity is no longer there to blind him. The speaker reveals his personal feelings about what technology does to a picture and how much more beautiful things seem when there is nothing there to diminish the picture.
The simplicity of Carver’s poem also contributes to its effectiveness. Carver could have easily attempted to confuse his reader with big words and very deep meanings. Carver chose, however, to present the poem in as simple a form as possible. Carver’s theme is in no way hidden from the reader. Carver’s sentences have a simple structure that presents the reader with a story-like account of what the speaker was presented with. The theme is supported as well through this effective poem structure. There is no guessing involved as the theme is easily presented through simple wording and simple sentences. The reader knows without a doubt that the speaker feels that the nature that he viewed without electricity was much more beautiful than what he saw with lights.
Carver brings the reader into the story by combining simple sentence structure and first person point of view. The fact that the poem is presented as simply as possible allows the reader to completely comprehend what is being said. The fact that the poem is in first person point of view makes the reader feel that he is actually looking in on the speaker of the poem. There is no narrator telling the reader that the man saw the trees and the countryside. The reader is viewing the speaker as he sees these things and interpreting the speaker’s thoughts for himself.
Carver seals the beauty of the nature through bright and soothing images. Carver doesn’t simply say that the trees are “pretty” or “beautiful”, the trees that the speaker sees become “translucent” when the lights are gone (3). The trees are “Bent and covered with rime” (4). These images make the simplest viewing of a tree become a visual awakening. The speaker then views the countryside. The grass on the countryside is not seen individually. The animals that may be in the countryside are not viewed. The speaker says, however, of the countryside: “A vast calm/ lay over the countryside” (4-5). This calm is viewed after electricity is gone and it becomes almost dark.
As a result of this visual awakening, the speaker has an internal awakening that causes him to analyze himself. The pureness of nature causes him to feel pure inside. The speaker feels that he has “never in [his] life made any false promises or committed so much as one indecent act” (7-9). The speaker’s thoughts become “virtuous” (10) and he is temporarily on another level in his being.
At the end of the poem, Carver presents the dullness surrounding nature once things are returned to normal. Carver abandons all use of imagery with lines like, “Later on that morning, / of course, electricity was restored” (10-11). He ends the poem with a short, but very powerful line: “And things stood as they had before” (14). The reader can easily see that the speaker is disappointed by the way things seem dull and bare when technology is returned to life.
After reading “The Window”, one can easily say that Carver is pointing out the blinding effect that technology has had on the speaker and the rest of society. Although Carver lived from 1938-1988, this theme can still be applied to today’s society and its dependence on technology. Many times in the present, one can be heard speaking of how invigorating a simple trip to the mountains was; or a camping trip; or a simple run in the park. In any case, an escape from technology has proven to be very awakening. The speaker in Carver’s poem realizes this through a simple blackout that would normally cause aggravation. He views everything with a new light because there is none.
Carver, Raymond. “The Window”