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A Wasted Hour - a Short Story Writing by Jeffrey Howard Archer

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A Wasted hour

A Wasted Hour is a short story writing by Jeffrey Howard Archer, and was published September 5th, 2017. He was born in 1940, and was an English author and politician. Before he became a bestselling author, Jeffrey Howard Archer was a member of the British parliament from 1969 to 1974. He is also a former mayor candidate for the conservative party in London[1].

This analytical essay will be addressing the short story “A Wasted Hour” by Jeffrey Howard Archer. “A Wasted Hour” by Jeffrey Howard Archer, tells the story about a young female student named Kelley, who on her hitchhiking to her college meets an interesting man. This essay will be focusing on the narration, as well as a characterization of the main characters of the story. There will also be focused on the theme of the story, as well as the message.

We learn that Kelley has always been hitchhiking to her college, but has always kept it as a secret for her parents, as they would not understand her decision. We learn that the reason why Kelley is hitchhiking, is first of all because she wants to save money, but she also enjoys listening to other people’s stories, about their life and their dreams (p. 1 – l. 7).  Although Kelley hitchhikes a lot, Kelley do not accept rides from anyone, especially truck drivers, or groups of young men. Kelley also avoid drivers under the age of 60.  (p. 1. l. 18-21)

One day Kelley accepts a ride from an elderly gentleman, whose name is John. She notices that the man is a smoker, and is well-dressed (p. 2- l. 43). Kelley and John starts sharing each other stories. She tells him about studying American literature at Stanford, and her biggest dream is to become a famous writer. John also studied American literature when he was younger, but without getting his degree (p. 2 – l. 55-59). Kelley and John then talks about their favourite books, and other things they may share. John starts to tell Kelley about his life story, how he left his studies to work at his father`s farm, and then later travelled to California, and got a job as a war correspondent for the Herald Tribune. He tells her about how he lost his job and his first wife named Carol, and then later got a married to a woman named Gwyn which he got two sons with. John had also worked with immigrants until the Vietnam War began.  

After their conversation, John advises Kelley not to hurry becoming an adult, and still enjoy being young. They then arrive at Stanford, a John says he can wait to read her first novel, as she was kind enough to read his. At that moment, Kelley knew that she had just wasted one hour of her life in a car with her favourite novelist (p. 4 – l. 152-155).  

Kelley is a young American woman who live with her parents in Salinas, California. In the story, she travels from Salinas to Palo Alto (p. 1 – l. 13). In the short story, we get the feeling that Kelley is in general a very clever person, she goes to college

at Stanford, and study American literature, and although she hitchhikes, she is very aware of who she gets a ride from.  

John is the second character in the story. He is married to a woman named Elaine (p. 4 – l. 123) We learn that he also got two sons with his ex-wife (p. 3 – l. 108) We do not learn a lot about John as a developing character, but more about his life. As readers, we get surprised in the ending, that the whole story has been about John Steinbeck’s life.  

“A Wasted Hour” which is the title of the story, do not indicate a lot about the plot, but readers of the story would most likely expect the main character “Kelley” to waste one hour of her life. In this “Wasted Hour” of her life, Kelley chooses to hitchhike to college but refuses to tell her parents (p. 1. – l. 1) She gets into a car with an elderly gentleman whose name is John, and they start sharing each other stories. Kelley and John find out that they both like John Steinbeck novels, and her favourite novel of all time is Grapes of Wrath, which she read the first time when she was 12 years old. (“Do you have a favourite? he asked, his eyes never leaving the road ahead. ‘Yes, I do. I read The Grapes of Wrath when I was twelve years old, and I consider it to be one of the great novels of the twentieth century). (p. 2 – l. 66)

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