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No, the real division was between the visible world and that other world, where Isabel waited for me like a dark dream. (p.63)

The story “The Room in the Attic” by Millhauser becomes extremely fantastical when Isabel is introduced. From the beginning of their friendship, David doesn’t even know if she is real, or if Wolf was fooling around with imageshim. As their friendship develops between David and Isabel, David is drawn to this fantastic world in which everything is a mystery. What is so fantastical about Isabel is that she is almost ghost-like, hiding in the darkness and her touch
and presence fleeting. Millhauser makes us feel the mystery of her and the surrealness of this room that David comes back to almost every day. I was extremely surprised when Isabel revealed herself and David covered his eyes and ran out of the room and away from the house. It’s as if David wanted to continue living in the fantastic reality of not seeing or truly knowing. Through the story, David becomes more immersed in the love for darkness and is lured into the excitement of the unknown. Two lines that struck me, though, were when “during these seizures, I have delusions I call Isabel.” (p. 56) and “… I waved to Wolf’s mother, who turned out to be a jacket on the back of a shadowy chair …” (p. 73) because both suggest that everything that David has described in Wolf’s home may have just been his imagination. If the mother is a jacket and the family isn’t real, had David been visiting an abandoned, dark house? The darkness would have been real, but everything else could have been in his mind.

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