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Neighbors Summary
Thomas Berger

Everything you need to understand or teach Neighbors by Thomas Berger.

  • Neighbors Summary & Study Guide
  • 1 Literature Criticism
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Neighbors Summary

Beneath the dark comedy of Neighbors, there is an undercurrent of tragic irony, particularly since the novel ends with Keese's fatal heart attack (his neighbors have literally persecuted him to death). As a middle-aged and prosperous suburban householder, Keese has tried to insulate himself against the more unpleasant realities of American life. Yet this mild mannered conformist is an archetypal victim who must confront the same indignities that others face. In this respect, Keese resembles the Everyman figures of some celebrated European literary works, like Ivan Ilych in Leo Tolstoy's novelette, "The Death of Ivan Ilych," or Joseph K. in Franz Kafka's The Tria/(1925; see separate entry). Like those predecessors, Keese finds himself the target of implacable fates in the persons of Harry, Ramona, and the Greavys, who seem determined to make Keese pay for his lifelong attempt to avoid anguish and suffering.

At times, however, Berger's irony is...

(read more from the Short Guide)

Study Pack

The Neighbors Study Pack contains about 14 pages of study material in 2 products, including:

Neighbors Short Guide

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