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There are many literary works which are attributable to Kent Nelson. Kent Nelson as a contemporary American author who specializes in poetry and works of fiction has a Juris Doctor in Environmental Law, Harvard University. Among his works of fiction, Perfect Strangers, One Turned Wild and Discoveries remain some of the most popular. Among these, Perfect Strangers remain very popular and very rich in thematic values. The story is mainly about two people: Martha Lynn Gray who has recently landed a divorce from his selfish husband Peter and Taylor Lanier, a stranger who is hitchhiking to go live with his sister after being sacked from his electronics maintenance job. Martha who is on her way to a divorce function meets Taylor along the roadside and gives him a lift. This leads to a tête-à-tête between the two, with the culmination of the same being the capitulation of Taylor to go to the divorcees’ meeting.  

Thesis Statement

            Among many other factors, the importance of the story Perfect Strangers is vested in the fact that it explores the reality that underscores intersexual relationships, so that by reading the story, the underpinnings of a happy relationship and/ or one headed for divorce are easily understood.  

            While in Martha’s car, from the conversation between Martha and Taylor lets the reader into the unhappiness which characterised Martha’s marriage to Peter. This is especially in the case in which the moment she apologizes to Taylor for having attempted to throw him out of her car. At the mention of the clause “I am sorry”, Martha remembers that her life with Peter had always been characterised by her apologizing and incessantly feeling guilty. This use of flashback lets the readers in on to the relationship which thrived on Martha being manipulated and being made to feel guilty for all the mishaps which were not her fault. For instance, when Peter broke a glass, Martha had to apologize since she was the one who had placed it at the wrong place. This similarly lets the readers understand the factors that led to the divorce between Martha and Peter.

            In the travelling that takes place between Martha and Taylor, one is able to understand Martha’s personality, in respect to her divorce, marriage to Peter and her overall personality. In the very short instance where she attempts to throw Taylor outside, readers are let into Martha’s personality as very kind and selfless. When she opens her car door to let Taylor out, the cold blast that invades the insides of the car had her sympathizing with Taylor. She imagines Taylor standing by the road with the thin jacket and enshrouded in darkness and cold. She fears for his safety too. In light of all these, Martha rescinds her decision.

Concerning The Woman’s Attempt to Know the Stranger

            It is true that Martha’s attempt to know the stranger is one that is not labored or contrived: it takes place naturally. She stops for the stranger out of sympathy and changes her mind on dropping him out in the cold. Out of her sincerity and goodwill, she accords the stranger dinner, pays fully for it and accords him 100 dollars, for him to attend a divorce party. However, her actions can aptly be described as naïve, given that being alone with a stranger in her car could have turned out to be totally tragic.

Concerning The Man’s Reaction towards the Woman

            Taylor’s reaction towards Martha is that of shame. This shame is underpinned by acculturation and socialization which has inculcated within men, the (correct) ideal that man ought to be the one providing for the woman. The shame is particularly exhibited in the instance where Martha hands Taylor the 100 dollars but he remains silent and unable to pocket them. This is because of the shame.  

 Why Martha Would Stop For a Hitchhiker at Her Lowest Ebb

            Martha stopped to pick up the hitchhiker at the time she is still suffering from the emotional turmoil from the recent divorce probably out of impulse and tradition. That she is impulsive is a matter which is underscored by the fact that she impromptu decides to throw Taylor out of her car and then almost immediately changes her mind. Tradition is seen in the fact that she had hitchhiked severally and taken lifts from strangers, despite the many warnings from strangers and parents.   

Of The Title and Its Symbolic Value

            The title of the story remains symbolic since it serves as the heading to an interaction of Martha and Taylor who are total strangers. The title also evokes aesthetic values and serves as a hook (by evoking the reader’s curiosity) since at its mention and the realisation of the fact that the story is all about Martha and Taylor, the reader is left with no recourse but to read on so as to get to know what happened between the two characters.  

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