Characterisation of the narrator

The main character of the story “Dead as They Come” by Ian McEwan is also its narrator. His characterisation is constructed both directly (self-characterisation) and indirectly (through actions, attitudes, thoughts). He is a developing, unreliable character as he changes from a man who is attracted by a window mannequin to someone who develops a sick sexual love for the dummy and finally into a madman.

Outer characterisation

From his outer characterisation we find out that he is a 44-year-old rich business man who has been married three times before:

I am wealthy. Possibly there are ten men resident in London with more money than I. Probably there are only five or six. Who cares? I am rich and I made my money on the telephone. I shall be forty-five on Christmas Day. I have been married three times… 

We also know that he has a personal chauffeur, an impressive art collection, and that he considers himself a good cook. In the course of the narrative he also becomes a knight and is offered a political position.

Inner characterisation

His inner characterisation is quite complex, as the man is psychologically disturbed. He describes himself as “a man in a hurry”  and admits dreading emotional involvement and the complications of relationships:

I have no time to stay with a woman, listen to her story, know her soul, grow dependent and sluggish. I have no time for the analysis, the self-searching of frenzied relationships, the unspoken accusation, the silent de fence. I do not wish to be with women who have an urge to talk when we've finished our coupling. I want to lie still in peace and clarity. Then I want to put my shoes and socks on and comb my hair and go about my business. 

Still, he gradually develops an obsessive passion for a window dummy from a fashion store. He describes himself as being in love with the dumm...

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