| Literal Comprehension
“Sorry, Wrong Number” tells the story of Mrs. Stevenson who had been invalid for twelve years. Mr. Stevenson had always been at her bedside and served her. But that was her maid’s night off and her husband had been working late in his office. She had been trying to contact him herself for the last forty-five minutes. But she grew impatient and asked the operator to try it for her.
The telephone rang three times and the receiver was picked up at the other end. Mrs. Stevenson heard two males speaking without responding to her. The first man told the second man George to kill a woman with a knife and take away the jewelry to look like a simple robbery.
The woman lived on Second Avenue near a bridge. Mrs. Stevenson was nervous and dialed the operator again to find the call she heard by chance over the telephone. She asked him to find out the wrong number which he could not find. She was highly nervous and sought the help of the chief operator. He replied that it was possible to find out only the live call, not the disconnected one. She then telephoned the police.
She felt that it was her civic duty to save the innocent woman. But the police took no interest in her. Sergeant Duffy said that her clue was not enough to find out the murderer. He added that if she felt that her life was in danger they could do something for her. She replied that she was safe. She was growing restless.
Just then she got the telegram message through the phone that Mr. Stevenson had to go to Boston on an urgent job and that he would be back the following afternoon. She was more afraid. She felt that she would be killed. She phoned a hospital to send a trained nurse to be with her because her condition was extremely bad. The hospital promised to send one. But she grew more terrified and phoned the police.
Just then a subway train crossed the bridge. George came in and killed her. The phone rang. Sergeant Duffy was speaking. George replied to him that he was sorry because it was the wrong number.
This play might be a commentary on life in faceless, fragmented, modern American cities. When people are busy they have no time to care for other people. Even their sick relatives become a burden to them.
Murder there is so common that we can get professional killers easily. When his wife is found useless and a burden, Mr. Stevenson does not hesitate to hire a murderer. People are insensitive and robotic in modern cities.
| Critical Thinking
This play shows that if the script is well-written a single actress can hold the spellbound attention of the audience. It’s a thriller. Its exciting and gripping plot calls for the undivided attention of the readers. When we read it we don’t agree with some of the things in the play.
We want to ask a few questions: Is this a realistic play? Is it possible for a caller to overhear a conversation between two other parties? Is it possible for Mrs. Stevenson to never fully grasp that she is the intended victim? But on the whole, it is a very artistic play.
By reading this play I came to know why murder is so common in big cities. To get rid of the unwanted things one gets another killed. It also gives me a glimpse of a busy life in big cities.
Even the policeman is so busy that he is not so much interested in the report of the would-be murder. The hospital has no trained nurses to send. The husband has to leave his invalid wife because of his work. Only the jobless person is free and he is suffering from nervousness.