How Many Mistakes are Actually Made in “The Mistake”?

The short story “The Mistake” makes several references to mistakes that are made by multiple people that are mentioned throughout the plot.  These mistakes as defined by our main character include those that he makes, those that the woman he loves makes, and the mistakes of other secondary characters that are mentioned in the story. Therefore, I am left with the question of how many mistakes are actually made throughout the course of the story.

Ultimately, in my opinion, for something to be considered a mistake it usually involves the process of someone making a decision or doing something that leads to negative consequences as a direct result. Therefore, as readers we would need to know the outcome of a particular decision or action in order to fully understand if  a mistake has been made. For example, within the very first paragraph, the narrator presents to us his first mistake: I know it’s a mistake to let her leave. And yet I do let her leave” (Caistor, 1). In this instance, the readers simply know that the narrator believes he has made a mistake by allowing the woman he loves to leave, but I believe that as readers we don’t really know if this is a mistake because we have no understanding of the circumstances that are related to her leaving. So, it is hard for us to gage if it is really a mistake for her to go because that is possibly the best decision for all the parties involved.

Regardless of all the mistakes mentioned, there is a reason that the article is called “The Mistake” rather than “Mistakes”, implying that there is only one true mistake made. The one decision that the readers see unfold in detail is the narrator’s choice to try to walk across the river. At this point in the story, even the narrator knows that this is truly his one mistake: “Apparently that was my big mistake” (Caist0r, 2). If not through the narrator’s admittance of this being the biggest mistake thus far, the readers also know that he has truly made a mistake at this point in the story: “I won’t be able to reach it” (Caistor, 2). The readers are able to truly acknowledge his choice to try and cross the river as a mistake as we can clearly see that the negative consequence for this decision is the narrator drowning. While there are many mistakes mentioned throughout the course of the story, the narrator himself truly only makes one BIG mistake.


4 thoughts on “How Many Mistakes are Actually Made in “The Mistake”?

  1. Julia, I think this is an interesting topic to write about. I had not thought about questioning the validity of the main character. I agree that it is hard to tell what is really a mistake based off of the information given. We don’t know much about his ex girlfriend or what she thought about her departure. This post made me question, what was the point of the story? If the mistake was pretty simple, what is the significance of this story. As we have discussed in class recently about gender and dominance, I think that there is an underlying theme of that relationship between man and women. As you quoted, the main character thinks, “I know it’s a mistake to let her leave. And yet I do let her leave” (Caistor, 1). Although we do not know or meet the girl he “let” leave I find it interesting that the narrator does not give any of the decision to the woman in the story. He let her go, as if he could stop her. He couldn’t. He couldn’t make it through the river in time and I wonder if that was really a mistake, or just fate. I think that shes better off without him and he wasn’t going to stop her or hold her back.

  2. In Julia’s post I find her argument, that the short story, The Mistake, may only truly have one mistake, very interesting. By investigating the use of singularity in the title, Julia makes the reader of the post truly think about whether the other mistakes seen in this story were falsely encountered through a false perspective. I think her argument is compelling and makes me agree with her train of thought. I believe that there is only one mistake because all the others are quite miniscule and pointless. They don’t really convey a mistake but an unfortunate outcome through the best possible choice for the particular situation the narrator encounters. Even though the narrator categorizes all the other situations as mistakes does not mean the reader should also. The reader must truly understand the definition of the word mistake before understanding the true misfortunate events that take place. By saying “Apparently that was my big mistake,” the narrator puts aside the other “mistakes” he talks about and brings forward the true mistake encountered throughout this entire story. Julia understands this situation and is able to see this by taking an extra step and thinking about the use of singularity in the title.

  3. A wonderful work that gives the author a lot of questions to which he ponders and decides for himself what was a mistake and what should have been. It reminded me of another very strong piece of writing, The Glass Castle, which I learned about after reading this example and decided to try reading it. In it, there was the question of the choice between the good father and the tyrant.

  4. Monero is quickly becoming the preferred cryptocurrency choice for cybercriminals. It offers a level of privacy and anonymity that other cryptocurrencies don’t, making it an attractive option for criminals looking to hide their activities from law enforcement. As monero emerges crypto choice for cybercriminals, making it easier to use for illegal activities. As more cybercriminals begin to use Monero, its value is likely to increase as well.