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"The Lost Phoebe" by Theodore Dreiser_

"The Lost Phoebe" is one of the short stories of Theodore Dreiser, who is famous as the writer-realist. The plot of the text centers around Henry Reifsneider, whose wife dies. In due course the lonely man becomes mad and starts to search for his wife. This search brings him to the death.

The subject matter of the story is the spiritual loneliness of a person. Here we deal with the man-against-himself (internal) conflict. That is between the wish to find his wife and the impossibility to do this.

It should be noted the story begins with the exposition. Dreiser plunges the reader into the sever reality with decrepit houses and deaths. He gives detailed description of the house in which Henry and his wife live: "The house was old and mildewy … high and wide and solid built, but faded looking, and with a musty odor."

There are also references to the cherry wood. Maybe that is a case of allusion which hints at Chekhov's "The cherry orchard", where the cherry orchard is something valuable that comes to desolation. The creaky wooden loom like a dusty bony skeleton, a worm-eaten clothes press, broken-down furniture were also a part of the house.

In the exposition we also get some information about the members of Henry's family. It appears to me the complication is: "A certain combination of furniture … gave him an exact representation of Phoebe … Could it be she - or her ghost?" This rhetorical question and doubt are the beginning of the madness ...

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