Due to Kureishi’s track record of novels and short stories, we may be surprised by his choice of topic in this story as he normally elects to cover topics that come from a darker place, such as racism and depression. There is no surprise, however, that he revels in the morbid sense of humour throughout. Kureishi possibly takes this perspective due to the dark literary years of his early works as a pornography writer before his later dramatic screenplays and novel such as My Beautiful Launderette in 1985, The Buddha of Suburbia in 1990 and The Mother which was adapted into a movie in 2006. Due to this fact we shouldn’t be too surprised that he is able to turn inner turmoil into this well-crafted short story.
I can imagine many people will be able to relate to the event that is expressed in this very short story to some degree. This piece poses an everyday occurrence in a melodramatic style, which is hardly a shock considering the writer's experience as a screenwriter. Each thought is carefully analysed by the author who depicts the life of a stereotypical mother in impassive detail. Kureishi uses hyperbole to establish the dry sense of humour running throughout his prose. He goes through the stages of anxiety and fear experienced by the mother that she contemplates meeting her fate with the peculiar individual just to escape the situation.
The protagonist is a pessimistic mother who we can empathise with. She is an innocent victim who is subjected to a trivial conversation that she cannot escape due to the heavy burden of politeness. She doesn’t have equal amounts of courage to a protagonist who should have to overcome the pivotal battle against the antagonist. But would you have the strength to overcome a hormonal, socially deprived mother and deny her the thing she most craves? Attention?
However, we can also empathise with the antagonist. The antagonist of this simple yet effective story is none other than an overly friendly fellow mother who doesn't seem to know when to release her captive from the unbearably trivial one-sided conversation being had by the two. Let's be honest: we all have that one relative or individual who you feel obliged to keep company once forced to interact with them. Some can come to pity her as the poor woman only wants the company of another and some acknowledgement that she does have strong feelings about the small events that enter her life.
I recommend the lazy, the pessimistic and the sarcastic to read this story as there is nothing like seeing feelings being expressed perfectly in a reflection of your own situation. Even those who are hardworking and optimistic need a bit of negativity to even out their ridiculous positivity, and to experience a literary genius' light-hearted whingeing.