Wednesday, 29 August 2012
THE THIRD LEVEL ( Notes and Questions)
Charley's convinced there are three, not just two, levels at Grand Central Station. Charley's psychiatrist, and his friends, thinks his delusion is a “waking-dream wish fulfillment,” and like his stamp collection, a temporary refuge from a world full of insecurity, fear, war, and worry.
Charley explains that one evening while hurrying home, he decided to take the subway from Grand Central Station, and became lost. He eventually found himself on a strange third level with spittoons on the floor, oddly dressed people, and a locomotive from 1894.
Understanding he'd somehow gone back in time, Charley tries to buy tickets to Galesburg, IL, “a wonderful town … with big old frame houses, huge lawns and tremendous trees whose branches meet overhead and roof the streets.” Because the clerk won't accept his 1950-style money, Charley leaves the station.
During his lunch break the next day, Charley withdraws nearly all their savings and buys old-style currency. But he can never again find the entrance to the third level at Grand Central Station.
Charley finds evidence the third level actually exists when he discovers a letter to him, dated July 18, 1894, from Galesburg, IL. It seems Charley's psychiatrist was not as incredulous of the third level as he appeared.
The story third level clearly explores the science fiction genre of ‘time travel’; Jack Finney, the recipient of the world fantasy award interweaves fantasy with the reality in the most futuristic projection of time travel. Charley wishes to be transported to the third level, the world of 1894 which is supposedly much happier and quieter place to be. It is one of the most concise and entertaining story about time travel. The question whether the third level exist in real or only in charley’s mind can be inferred from Sam’s letter.
The story also dwells on the theme of escapism, not only as a psychological refuge from the grim realities of the present day world but also as a desire to stay with the past or to keep the past alive in the complexities of the present. In the story charley not only expresses desire to escape but also prepares and tries very hard, a desire which is not contested by the wife either. Sam is also happily escaped with no plans to resort to his old profession along with scores of other people who cross the grand central everyday… to escape seems to be an all pervasive feeling.
(Q.) ‘The Third Level’ written by Jack Finney is a story that illustrates an intersection of time and space. Elaborate.
(Ans) In ‘The Third Level’, Jack Finney treats his favourite subject ‘Time’ in a new dimension. The Third Level is a point where the past and the present meet.Charley, the protagonist loses his way. He finds himself in what he thinks is the third level of the Grand Central Station in New York. He realizes that something is different and discovers that he has somehow reached the year 1894.It is the period Finney would want to be in. The responses and happiness of the three characters in the story revolve around the third level. Charley is excited and wants two tickets for Galesburg, a peaceful town in the pre-war period. Sam, Charley’s psychiatrist friend attributes it to his desire to escape from the stress of life. Later on, Sam drew all his life’s savings from the bank and exchanged it for 1894 currency. He was able to cross time and reach a quieter, more peaceful past where his services as a psychiatrist were not required. Louisa did not believe that one could cross over the time dimension till Charley received a letter from Sam. Jack Finney leaves the readers wondering what ‘The Third Level’ really is. Even though Charley is able to find proof and make the transition back and forth in time, Sam, his friend is already there and enjoying himself. The reader gets transported into the shadowy, eerie world of dreams, desires and reality.
Short Answer Questions
Why did the narrator talk to a psychiatrist friend of his and what did he say about the third level?
How did the narrator’s psychiatrist friend analyze his claim of being at the third level of Grand Central Station?
What did the narrator’s friends say about him? What did his stamp collecting point to?
. What did the narrator say about his escapism from the real world?
1The narrator thinks that the Grand Central is growing like a tree. What makes him think so? Why has it been ‘an exit’?
How did the narrator get lost when he was heading for the sub-way?
How did the narrator come out on the third level at grand Central Station after he had lost the way?
What did the narrator see unusual at the third level?
Describe Galesburg Illinois in 1894. Why did the narrator want two tickets to
“That ain’t money, mister” said the clerk to the narrator. Why did he warn the Narrator?
. How did the narrator get the old-style currency? Why couldn’t he buy two tickets for Galesburg in spite of having the currency used in 1894?
Why was the narrator’s wife Louisa worried?
What is a first day cover? Explain.
What strange thing was found among the oldest first day covers? How did it come there?
.What was written in Sam’s letter to Charley?
.Why couldn’t Sam go back to his old business?
.What does Charley’s psychiatrist friends say about his visit to the third level?
.What do Charley’s friends think about his stamp collection?
.Why does Charley compare the Grand Central Station to a tree?
How does Charley find himself on the third level at the Grand Central Station?
What peculiar things does Charley notice on the third level?
Do you think that the third level at the Grand Central was a medium of escape? If yes, how?
Why is the clerk surprised when Charley starts counting the money?
What does Charley do after he leaves the third floor?
Could he go to the third floor again to buy tickets for him and his wife?
What is a ‘first-day cover’? How is it collected?
.What strange thing does Charley find in his stamp collection?
Who wrote that letter and to whom?
What was written in the letter that Sam wrote to Charley in 1894?
. What happens to his friend Sam? Where does Charley suspect him to be?
What is the most revealing fact about Sam?
4The Grand Central Station has only two levels. Charley said there were three. What did his psychiatrist friend think?
. What did the psychiatrist think about Charley’s stamp-collection? Why did Charley not agree with him?
How was Charley often lost on the Grand Central Station?
How did Charley reach the third level?
How did Charley realize that he was on the third level?
. How did Charley make sure that he had actually travelled in the past?
Why did Charley rush back from the third level?
Why did Charley want to go to Galesburg?
. How did Charley prepare to go to Galesburg? Why couldn’t he reach there?
How did Charley learn that his psychiatrist friend had reached Galesburg of 1894?
What did Sam write to Charley from Galesburg?
Why does Charley think Sam escaped to Galesburg?
How do you find the ending of the story surprising?
LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
1. What does the third level refer to? Is it a medium or a way of getting away from the unpleasant and insecure present forgetting your normal life?
2. How did Charley stumble into the third level at Grand Central Station? Describe his experience there?
3. Describe Charley. Do you think his being on the third level at Grand Central Station was a waking-dream wish fulfillment? What did his stamp collecting point to?
4. ‘The Third Level’ at the Grand Central Station is nothing but a convenient excuse for escapism. Justify the statement.
5. Describe Charley’s character with special reference to his escapist tendency.
6. Describe Charley’s impression of the world he encounters on the third level at the Grand Central Station. Why couldn’t he buy tickets to Galesburg?
7. How has Jack Finney interwoven fantasy and reality in ‘The Third Level’? Also highlight the interaction of space and time in the story.
8. Charley wanted to go home quickly but he reached the third level. How did he get there?
9. What was the third level like? How did Charley know he had bumped into the past?
10. Why did Charley come back from the third level? What did his psychiatrist friend think about his experience?
11. Sam’s letter to Charley is a fine blend of reality and fantasy. Comment.»