I Prefer Not To “I prefer not to,” also tells the reader about Bartleby isolating himself. The phrase shows his lack of involvement, another form of isolation. The narrator tells the reader exactly what he did to Bartleby. The narrator’s cultural conditioning affects his point of view greatly, didn’t notice he was isolating Bartleby and tried to help, but Bartleby was succumbed to isolation. In the story, the author tells the reader exactly what he does to Bartleby to isolate him from the world.
He tells us in this passage, ” I placed his desk close up to a small side window in that part of the room, a window which originally had afforded a lateral view of certain grimy backyards, and bricks, but which, owning to in subsequent erections, commanded at present, no view at all, though it gave some light. Within three feet of the panes was a wall, and the light came down from far above between two lofty buildings, as from a very small opening in a dome. Still further to satisfactory arrangement, I produced a green folding screen, which might entirely isolate Bartleby from my sight, though, not to remove him from my voice.” The quotation describes how the narrator secludes Bartleby from society. Even the window, which normally is a form of escape, just traps him even more. The irony is while trying to seclude Bartleby he is affected by him. Instead of dismissing him on the spot for refusing to copy, proofread or leave the premises, he tries to find other employment for him.
He even considers inviting him to be a guest at his house. The narrator tries to help him but Bartleby would, “prefer not to,”. The narrator develops before our eyes into a carrying person. The narrator realizes that a common fault in a person does not determine that person. The narrator the changes and tries to know Bartleby, and his odd ways, even going the extra to help him. In conclusion, in real life, the strange are always isolated from the normal. In the end, the narrator tries to save Bartleby from his undoing.
But in those days the strange were looked down upon or ridiculed so Bartleby let himself be isolated from society. Bartleby by working in the dead letter office may have brought this isolation in to his life we don’t know, but if you asked Bartleby to answer he would say, ” I prefer not to”.