Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Impulse - Conrad Aiken

Author: Conrad Aiken
Date: 1950
Setting: Boston, 1950
Availability: in various collections, see link below

Story: A young man, Michael Lowes, is perhaps a bit too convinced of his own importance. He doesn't like it that his wife expects him to work hard, pay the bills, and pay attention to her. As is his custom he ignores his wife and goes for an evening of fun with his friends. During their game of cards they discuss why people should bother to control their impulses to do certain things. If you like a pretty girl, why not kiss her? If you want something, why not just take it? After their evening of fun, with a bit too much alcohol in his system, Michael decides to put their theory to the test. He slips a nice shaving kit off the counter of a drugstore into his pocket. His inexperience at thievery quickly lands him at the police station.

He tells them its all a joke, a simple experiment. All they have to do is call his friends or his wife, and they will vouch for him. Will they?

This story has a message for all of us. We've all thought that we work too hard for too little. We've all felt that our families were just too demanding. We've all wondered why we can't just have the things we want. Although we usually realize that to follow our impulses to work less, or take whatever we believe we deserve, will lead to destruction, this story points out how close to the moral edge we may each be.

Author info:Conrad Aiken, 1889-1973, was an American author, perhaps better known for his poetry. The received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1930. From 1950-52 he was the Poetry Consultant of the Library of Congress. His parents were wealthy and prominent New Englanders, but when Conrad was 11 his father shot his mother and then committed suicide. The boy found their bodies. His works were highly influenced by this incident, and were often psychological in nature.

Language skills 9
Depth of meaning 9


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