Checking Out


Wolfe's comments from the Introduction to Storeys from the Old Hotel

"'Checking Out' was written for Pamela Sargent's Afterlives, an anthology of life-after-death stories."


An unnamed man wakes up in a hotel room with no clear idea of how he has arrived there. He reminisces about a number of women with whom he's been involved: Jan, Jane and Joan. He realizes he cannot leave the room, and tries to phone his wife. She meanwhile is conversing about his recent burial. She hears no-one on the phone, "not even breathing".


  • The hotel room could be seen as a form of Purgatory -- or Hell, like a solitaire version of Sartre's Huis Clos. Perhaps the narrator is being punished for his (admitted) infidelity?
  • The similarity of the three women's names is reminiscent of Forlesen, where each "generation" of characters has names that start with the same letter. It may suggest that they are in a sense representative of all women, and perhaps the unnamed narrator represents all men.
  • He keeps trying to throw the pictures away, throwing them "toward" the wastebasket, but it seems he never succeeds. The pictures may represent the guilt that haunts him.

Unresolved Questions

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