This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Collectors” by Raymond Carver. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it

Presentation of the text

Title: “Collectors” [1975]
Author: Raymond Carver
Genre: Short story

Raymond Carver (1938-1988) is an American writer known for his short stories and poetry. “Collectors” was written in 1974 and first published in Esquire magazine in 1975. In 1976, it was published in Carver's first collection of stories, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?


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Bell’s behavior portrays him as rude, persistent, and intrusive. He insists on carrying out the free cleaning, despite the narrator’s request for him to leave. Bell enters the narrator’s bedroom (which many consider a private space) without asking for permission. He also seems to want to distract the narrator with small talk about the lives of famous authors such as W. H. Auden, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Voltaire. Bell's knowledge about these writers suggests that he is highly educated, which seems unexpected for either a salesman or a debt collector. This adds to the mystery about the character’s identity.

Bell also appears knowledgeable and skilled at his job. He speaks at length about the traces of skin and hair gathered by mattresses and pillows, and skillfully uses and presents the vacuum cleaner and how it works. Some of Bell’s remarks make him appear judgmental. However, it is unclear whether this is true or if this is just the narrator’s perception

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