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Thread: Can you relate to this?

  1. #1

    Default Can you relate to this?

    There was a story that I read in middle school that has stuck with me my entire life. For the life of me I cannot remember the name and haven't been able to find it anywhere. I've condensed it but below is the gist of the story.

    It is set in the 1920-30's and in it a banker has a party. The discussion at the party turns to which is more humane, the death penalty or solitary confinement. The banker says the death penalty and a young reporter says solitary confinement. They come up with a bet that if the reporter can live for 20 years in the bankers cabin without any contact with another human being, he would win the argument and receive 1 million dollars. He can have whatever he wants while in the cabin but had to leave a note on the door for it and wait till the delivery person left before bringing the items in. If he ever saw another person he would lose the bet.

    Each year the reporter becomes interested in something new. Without anything to distract him he can spend all of his time devoted to a specific field. One year he devotes all his time to painting and becomes a master artist and creates several masterpieces. The next year he decides to try his hand at cooking and becomes a master chef. By the end of the 20 years he is the master of 20 different careers.

    Now, when the bet was first made a million dollars was nothing to the banker. But after 20 years and some bad investments paying off the bet would leave the banker broke. So he decides to kill the reporter the day before the bet would be over. However, when he enters the cabin he finds that the reporter is not there. Instead he finds a note that says that after 20 years of living without human contact the report could not bare the thought of reintegrating into society so he ran off to live in the woods, never to be seen again.


    I haven't completely cut myself off from humanity but I have lived a hermit-like life for a very long time. At first when I read this story I thought the reporter was a fool for running off at the end. I thought that this would be the perfect life for me. Now that I am trying to connect with other people I can fully understand just how hard it is to reintegrate after a long absence. Does this story speak to anyone else? Also, does anyone know its name?

  2. #2


    Maybe you could be more specific about your own life, but here is my own take on relating to this story

    I myself can function enough to survive and make a decent amount of money in society, but I don't really exist as a social entity. I probably have Asperger's syndrome(No one cares after you turn 18) and fear opening up to people. When I go to parties, I don't feel a part of them. Seeing people in connect to each other often results in me becoming sad. I don't really think I'm ready to run off to the woods just yet though.

    I think the actual intended message is about prisoners unable to reintegrate back into society, but I doubt you are just back from 20 years in solitary,

  3. #3


    True, I've never been in jail. I've worked, go shopping and function normally out in society but failed so greatly when trying to be social that I convinced myself that I was happier living alone and not having any friends. I was a loner even back in school. Now that I am attempting to connect with others again I am constantly fighting the urge to run off into the woods.

    You are right about the message being about prisoners but it can also be about how things such as social skills can atrophy when not put into practice.

  4. #4


    I also recommend the short story "Everything's Eventual" by Stephen King. Its main character has a special inborn occult/voodoo talent for affecting people's thought patterns, and a large secret company puts him to work. They provide him a house away from his hometown, limited money, and just about whatever he asks for on his board. Once a week they clean his house, drop off money, and provide what he needs. After training is complete, he feels bored and underutilized, until one day when he wakes up and his training kicks in and he almost compulsively begins his work. I won't give away the rest because it's very enjoyable and it's a quick read.

    Both my story and yours have the similar concept of a person who is productive in a controlled and solitary location. I also thought it sounded like a neat idea.

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