Explanation



The Third Level at Grand Central Station


Grand Central Station of New York has two levels. But Charley, a thirty-one year old dweller of the city, talks about there being three. Not only does he believe in the existence of this hypothetical third level but also claims to have been there.


A visit to his psychiatrist friend


Charley visits a psychiatrist friend to talk about this problem. The psychiatrist calls it a “waking-dream wish fulfillment” and rationalises Charley's psychology by saying that the “modern world is full of insecurity, fear, worry, and war...” and everybody wants to escape to some “temporary refuge from reality.” According to him, even hobbies like stamp collection is a manifestation of this escape.


Charley loses his way at Grand Central


The fast growing Grand Central station at times seems to be a maze to Charley. He had lost his way a couple of times earlier too while taking the subway. Once, he entered the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel while the other time he emerged at an office building that was three blocks away. But this time when he loses his way, something unique happens. He visits the third level!


The Third Level


Charley keeps walking in the quiet corridor, angling left and slanting downward, till he reaches an architecturally old station that is completely different from the two familiar levels. The antiquated small room with fewer ticket counters and train gates, a wooden information booth, flickering open flame gas lights and brass spittoons reminds him of the architecture of the 1800s. He also finds that people are dressed in outmoded outfits. He notices that the date on the newspaper The World is printed June 11, 1894. As he tenders money to the clerk at the counter to buy two tickets, he realises that he need to have old currency bills to do so.


Charley's plan for a journey not realised


He had always wanted to travel to Galesburg with his wife, Louisa. In his mind, it is “a wonderful town still, with big old frame houses, huge lawns, and tremendous trees....” It is a place with long and pleasant summer evenings and where people have ample of time. So, the next day during lunch, he exchanges three hundred dollars for old style bills amounting to some two hundred only. The loss doesn’t bother him much as he believes that in Galesburg everything will be cheaper and that he can manage even with a small amount. But, he could never again find the corridor leading to the third level.


Sam goes missing!


His wife Louisa is worried after knowing all this and asks him not to look for the third level any further. Suddenly Charley realises that his friend, Sam Weiner, is nowhere to be found, so he and his wife keep looking for him in the weekends. Sam was the one with whom Charley used to share his ideas about Galesburg.


Philately & the first day covers


Philately is not just stamp collection but a broad term including the study of stamps, postal history and other related items. When a new stamp is issued, on the first day, people mail a blank paper to themselves and then retain that unopened letter with the date on the postmark. Charley has inherited the hobby and the collection from his grandfather.


A letter from Sam


One day while fidgeting with his stamp collection, Charley comes across a letter that was not there earlier. It bears the postmark on a faded six-cent stamp with a picture of the President Garfield. The envelope was sent on July18, 1894 to Charley's grandfather in Galesburg and is addressed to Charley. The letter reads that Sam has reached Galesburg and is having whale of a time there. He also invites Charley and Louisa to Galesburg. When Charley goes to the stamp and coin store, he is apprised of Sam's exchanging eight hundred dollars for the old currency bills to establish his business of hay feed and grain in Galesburg. The letter was written by Sam Weiner, who was Charley's psychiatrist!

44 comments:

  1. i found the plot very amazing. and the last part with sam gone is also a hit.
    PJ

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    1. Intresting story but character of sam is not clear

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    2. Yaa trueee It will be more interesting If there is more jnformation about sam

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    3. Sam was his psychiatrist friend ...
      Amazed .isn't it ?😏

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  2. Replies
    1. Agreed. This and Evans tries an 'O' Level are such good stories. Hope CBSE adds a few more.

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    2. Yes I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, CBSE removed The Third Level from syllabus this year.

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    3. Did Evans tries an 0-level is coming in exams

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  3. Though I understood that Charley had always opted for a soothing place in his imagination to move away from the harsh realities of life, I couldn't understand about Sam. Inspite of being an Escapist, has he(Sam) been an Escapist too!!???

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    1. Sam always wanted to do a sort of business.
      But was unable to do so in modern America. He never wanted to be psycatrist
      So he went to Galesburg to do grass and hay business there

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  4. Maybe it is a nice story. But in could not understand the difficult and complicated english

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  5. movie shud be made out of it ..been searching abt it for yrs now.. i was in 8th ..this chapter is popular in eng litrature indian courses

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    1. I wish for the same. There's a movie on Evans tries an o level though, but it's not that good.

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  6. I taught high school English for 35 years and always enjoyed teaching this short but thought provoking story. It is a great read and even greater think.

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  7. one of my favourite stories from ncert textbook.

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  8. Very interesting.....like it....

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  9. Humor is what we live for , but then again humor comes in mysterious ways , who knows might a parallel world made of nothing but history ,legends endure for a reason keep believing it

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  10. U SHOULD ALSO TRY "EVAN TRIES 'O' LEVEL" BY 'COLIN DEXTER' THESE TWO STORIES ARE THE BEST....ACTUALLY ONLY THE BEST...... IN NCERT

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  11. Could it be a point, that Sam, Charlie's psychiatrist is also imaginary? As Charly used to share his imaginary world with him, and suddenly Sam gets lost

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  12. Is sam also charlys imaginary?

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  13. This is an amazing plot. The chapter seems easy while going through this.

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  14. wished if Jack Finney finish the story on whether Charley found the third level or not.. lol

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  15. Me too. This is like Of Missing Persons, only in that story, the
    main character missed out on his utopia due to personal doubt and cynicism.

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  16. I'm still confused about ...Is sam also imaginary ?

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  17. Summary is in simple language and easy to understand by me ......
    So it was good for me .
    Thanks

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  18. I always thought they time warped or something , but my english teacher shot down this theory saying that Charley had went mad.

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  19. So honestly charley did NOT go back in time to illinois in 1894? That's sad coz i thought cbse had put sci-fi material for the first time

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  20. Very applicable explanation and helping too.Thank you very much.

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  21. it was a great story I liked it a lot nd it seems to be a real story

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  22. walla very good ,
    great story , good good

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  23. I was finding this chapter very confusing, but thx to this plot my doubts are all cleared. TnTha you so much for uploading this.

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  24. How did Charley find the letter of Sam in his collection of first day covers

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  25. Same I’m also dwelled up with these thoughts,, if Sam could be imaginary but how about her wife looking up for Sam, is this also imaginary.

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  26. I found this review very much helpful and is written in very well.....

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