Double Indemnity Character Analysis

1570 Words7 Pages
Double Indemnity, a novel by James M. Cain, tells the story of Walter Huff, an average man and experienced insurance salesman who finds his way into a dangerous and risky string of events when the focus of his ordinary house call is unexpectedly diverted. Unable to avoid the seduction of Phyllis Nirdlinger, the client’s wife, Walter indulges himself in plotting the murder of Mr. Nirdlinger enticed by greed and love. In literature, characterization allows readers to empathize with the protagonist and secondary characters, and thus feel that what is happening to these people in the story is vicariously happening to them. It gives credibility or the impression of living reality. Characterization moves the story along by putting fascinating characters…show more content…
However, what the novel fails to reveal is the answer to the deeming question “why?” Although this may be Cain’s way of allowing his readers to interpret the novel on an individual level, it seems to instead lead his readers down a path of misunderstanding and forced assumptions. For example, Phyllis initiates a dialogue between her and Walter, “‘Do you understand me Walter?’ ‘No.’ ‘Nobody could.’ ‘But we’re going to do it?’ ‘Yes, we’re going to do it’’’ (19). In this dialogue, Walter and Phyllis are confirming that they will follow through with their plan. Cain makes it obvious that Walter does not understand where Phyllis is coming from in her insistence of this plan and yet for reasons that are unclear to readers, Walter is still involving himself in the crime. The dialogue of a story is an important part of characterization because it allows the readers to see into the characters minds and examine their motivations. Cain’s use of dialogue in this story does not utilize this idea to its full extent. This lack in understanding of the characters seems to have a negative affect on the depth of the plot as well. This shallowness of the characters makes the plot seem to move quickly and out of sync with the in depth, careful planning that goes with planning a successful
Open Document