Walter Van Tilburg Clark's short story, The Portable Phonograph, is a
tale about the last survivors in the world after the total destruction of a war.
The author gives clues and hints of this throughout the beginning by writing in
a narative voice and describing the scene in dark war-like terms. The
characters are then introduced as a group of men huddled around a fire. The
older of the men, Doctor Jenkins, is the leader and his character is full of
personality that can be analyzed by the reader. He is the owner of the shelter
that they meet in. This paper will point out the different aspects of the old
man in this story and state conclusions that can be drawn from them.
The men in this story are obviously amused by the slightest little things.
They occupy themselves through book readings from a collection that one
Each of the men has their contribution to the group and together
they endure a time of devastation by entertaining each other. The older man
has a record player that he brings out once a week for the listening pleasure
of the group. He is very proud of this treasure. It has sustained through these
hard times just as he has and he limits his use of it to make it last. He owns
only three steel needles and he gets one out to use because on this particular
occasion, their is a musician visitor with them. The other men act as excited
as children. They listen to the record and then leave the doctor's house.
Doctor Jenkins is nervous and suspicious at the end of the story when
the other men leave. 'With nervous hands he lowered the piece of canvas
which served as his door, and...