You Were Perfectly Fine by Dorothy Parker
In You Were Perfectly Fine by Dorothy Parker we have the theme of insecurity, guilt, alcoholism, escape, change, love, regret and commitment. Taken from her Complete Stories collection the reader realises after reading the story that Parker may be exploring the theme of insecurity. Peter has absolutely no memory of what has happened the night before due to him being heavily intoxicated He can’t remember what he has said or done to people. It is also possible that the young lady who is telling Peter what happened is biased, as she is in love with Peter, and she can see no fault in any of his actions. Though it is clear to the reader that Peter has made a fool of himself while he was drunk. As to whether this is a normal occurrence is difficult to say but there is no doubting that Peter has blacked out from drinking too much alcohol. Which may leave some readers to suggest that Peter has a problem with alcohol. Not only does Peter have the highs that would be associated with alcohol consumption but the following day it is clear that he has the lows that comes with the abuse of alcohol.
It is also interesting that for the entire story Peter for the main is motionless in the chair. It is possible that Parker by having Peter make so little movement is attempting to symbolically highlight that Peter is a slave to alcohol. He is the complete opposite to what he was the night before in whereby he may have felt he was entertaining everybody. It is also possible that due to his blackout Peter is filled with guilt. Knowing that he may have to apologize to others for his actions. Despite the reassurances of the young lady that everything is okay. If anything Peter has acted irresponsibly due to the fact that he was drunk. It is also interesting that Peter asks the young lady for a drink after she tells him of their taxi ride. It is as though Peter is not only trying to cure his hangover but he may also be attempting to escape from what he might have said to the young lady. Who feels as though their conversation in the taxi has been life-changing. Another aspect worth consideration is the fact that Parker by having Peter take the whiskey and soda in the afternoon may be suggesting that Peter is an alcoholic. That he has an inability to deal with life on life’s terms and feels the need to use alcohol to help him forget things he might have said or done.
Though the reader is given very little insight into the conversation that Peter had with the young lady it is noticeable that she has been impressed to such an extent that she does not see anything wrong in Peter’s actions. She has believed every word that Peter has said to her when it comes to how he feels about her. This may be important as it may suggest that Peter has the ability to be sensitive just as he has the ability to be insensitive (when it came to others in the restaurant). If anything Peter may have spoken from the heart though at the same time it may be important to remember that Peter when sober may be afraid to show his true feelings. In reality he may use alcohol as a crutch to help him express himself. However it is noticeable that for most of the night Peter was so drunk that he inappropriately expressed himself. It is only when he was in the taxi with the young lady that the reader senses they may have seen the real Peter.
The end of the story is also interesting as it is clear to the reader that despite all the regrets that Peter has over his actions. The one thing he most regrets is telling the young lady how he feels about her. It is as though he has unwittingly committed himself to the young lady. Something which pleases the young lady but brings displeasure and fear to Peter. Rather than being honest with the young lady and telling her that he has no memory of the conversation. Peter lies to her wishing not to hurt her feelings. However it is clear to the reader that this type of arrangement is only going to cause more problems for Peter particularly if he is reliant on alcohol. He will only end up misleading the young lady and eventually he will end up hurting her. She is prepared to make a commitment to Peter. Yet Peter himself is unable to do the same. Hence him asking the young lady for the drink. If anything Peter’s drinking has caused him more trouble than it is worth. Which would again leave the reader to suspect that Peter has a problem when it comes to alcohol.