Dead As They Come

This study guide will help you analyse the text “Dead as They Come” by Ian McEwan. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, themes and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Dead as They Come”
Author: Ian McEwan
Published in: In Between the Sheets (collection)
Date of Publication: 1977
Genre: Short Story

Ian McEwan (b. 1948) is a British writer of novels, short stories, and screenplays. McEwan has won several literary prizes and began his literary career writing gothic, macabre narratives. One of his most known works today is the novel Atonement which has been adapted into a film.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide:  

Physical setting

The clothing shop is only briefly described by the narrator, who is more concerned with the mannequin, than with the place:

I slavishly follow the foolish conventions and describe it to you, the first home of my tender Helen? I do not really care to. It was a large shop, a store, a department store and it dealt seriously and solely in clothes and related items for women. It had moving staircases and a muffled air of boredom. Enough. 

This description suggests that the narrator feels a women’s clothing shop is beneath his notice. However, the narrator presents his own home in detail, which serves to show his snobbish opulence:

I brought her into the kitchen first. I demonstrated its many gadgets. I pointed out the Utrillo on the wall (...) 

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Dead As They Come

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