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Car Accident Story Essay

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The short story “Test” is a double plot structure in two different time zones and, two different states of mind, it is merely somewhat of an illusion. The two scenarios include one that Robert experiences under hypnosis, and one within the centre of the driver test. It is a noteworthy story with plenty of dilemmas, and unexpected situations. It brings us vital messages about life, values, and our loved ones. The story has three key points that will be further analyzed throughout this paper. Reality is nothing more than a simulation of symbols that occur within a person's mind and from those symbols a person can make decisions, and have control over ones’ life.

The story starts out smoothly with a mother and son driving together and enjoying quality time. Robert and his mother must have a good relationship symbolized by “Her mouth was curved in a quiet smile” (Thomas 1). The author shows us that Robert's mother is calm and happy, trusting in her son's ability to drive the car safely. Another symbol in the story describes the atmosphere during the morning drive. “She watched the trees, and the fields slip by on her side of the pike” (Thomas 1). “The sun was bright, but not glaring, and the air smelled fresh and clean” (Thomas 1). Then an abrupt change takes place and their situation changes in the blink of an eye. “Up ahead he saw a great truck, spouting a geyser of smoke as it sped along the turnpike. Behind it, not passing it, was a long blue convertible, content to drive in the wake of the truck. Robert Proctor noted the arrangement and filed it in the back of his mind” (Thomas 1). It is immediately understood that something is going to happen regarding these two cars that Robert is noticing. Afterwards, an accident occurs, and the main character remains in control.

Robert is the protagonist of the story who is undergoing a test to earn his driver's licence. The whole test is imaginary and under the illusion of a complicated hypnosis. He seems to be completely incognizant of reality, but he manages to stay in control of his situation. The story begins with Robert driving his car on the turnpike with his mother. Robert and his mother are enjoying the pleasant morning while watching the scenic view of sunshine and trees pass along them on the road. After driving for about two hours, he notices two vehicles driving in front of him – a truck and a blue convertible following the truck. He then decides to pass the blue convertible. He passes the convertible without a problem. Suddenly, without warning, the blue convertible swings out from behind Robert, and hits the front of his vehicle. At this point, Roberts' car is facing oncoming traffic. He sees another car with a driver, and a small child sleeping in the back, coming straight towards him. There is a crash, and Robert sees white light. During the time of the accident he constantly hears the screaming of his mother. Although this accident is happening before his eyes, Robert maintains calm throughout the entire experience, but internally he is frightened. He does not show any signs of panic. He is fully attentive to the situation and acts with grace, given the circumstances. Robert shows that he is confident and daring, as most people would be frozen in such a situation; however, he attempts to continue driving and move his vehicle away from this dangerous situation. Robert maintains control, although continues to think about the sleeping child in the car that hit him.

The sleeping girl is a very important part in this short story. The sleeping girl is the passenger within the car that crashes head-on into Robert's hypothetical car. Robert sees the faces of the two people in the oncoming car. He sees fear on the face of the driver, and innocence and trust on the face of the sleeping girl. “It was not the fear in the man that reached into Robert Proctor; it was the trusting helplessness in the face of the sleeping girl” (Thomas 2). Robert is upset about everyone involved in the accident, but the sleeping girl is what stuck in his head because she did not know what was happening, and was just peacefully sleeping. When Robert awakens from his hypnosis he is relieved that the sleeping child (that would have died from the crash) was only a simulation. Externally Robert responds logically when he awakens and is relieved to see that the sleeping girl was not real, and she did not die; however, internally he reacts emotionally and has trouble unthinking the simulation he just experienced. “Though he saw the man clearly, he seemed to see the faint face of the sleeping girl in front of him” (Thomas 3). Thomas, the author, conveys these feelings to the reader with these words, showing that Robert has trouble separating reality from simulation.

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Logically the reader is aware that the sleeping girl's trust must be placed within the driver of her car, because she doesn't know Robert and is unaware of his individual presence. Her trust isn't personal to Robert, but she does trust Robert as if he were any driver following the safety of driving. The act of sleeping in an exceedingly moving vehicle places trust within the knowledge that most cars do not get in accidents, and that no one goes off on a drive thinking they might die. Safety on a highway requires two things: cooperative discipline and trust. The sleeping girl symbolizes this communal trust that each one person on the road places on one another. Robert is moved by her trust because his car—driving down the inaccurate side of the highway after spinning out of control—is currently violating that trust and might cause her death.

The short story is extremely intertwined between reality and imagination. The story begins with a simulation of Robert driving down a highway, dropping the reader into what looks like real life. The author describes this simulation with such details about sounds, smells, and emotions that it appears to be reality—to the protagonist, and even to the reader. The reader doesn't realize that this is a simulation, until Robert realizes. Robert wants to obtain his license, but he essentially fails at doing that. Once he realizes the simulation was not real, he is accepting the responsibility that an accident might occur while driving. This shocks the people who are running the simulation, and they assume that Robert has no guilt or conscience because of what happened in the simulation, which resulted in the death of multiple people. They fail him because of this, although Robert does have guilt, but is more relieved when he realizes the situation was not real. Everything is not as it appears. The simulation was just that, a simulation.

The hypnotic simulation shows us the lack of control that people have over their own lives. The story empathizes with the fact that Robert is a careful driver. He is careful, and he manages to regain control of his car twice. Still the crash is deadly. The author carefully notifies the peaceful, level-headed control of his protagonist even while showing that his control is completely meaningless. In this way the author challenges the reader to appreciate whether or not a person can indeed exert control over life and its events. Although Robert Proctor behaves responsibly, he is denied his license. He feels responsible for the death of his mother and the girl in the car which loomed ahead of him though nothing occurred in reality. The vivid image of the girl’s face in his head, together with his mother’s cry lingers in his mind after the hypnosis. This is where the author merges the two plots, reality versus simulation. The feelings that Robert experiences throughout the story are real and true, but the reality is that the simulation was going on in his head, and there was no accident. He has been deceived by authorities, because the act of hypnosis itself is a process of events that takes place in the mind under the control of others that are running the simulation.

To summarize the short story essentially deals with a delicate topic which talks about the morality and ethics of flexibility and the control that the state has over citizens. The author has also brilliantly blended emotions, adventures and reality together. This short story can also be a desirable story for Robert Proctor, who represents young enthusiastic people who want to drive the car and also the state authorities who give you a test to see if he is eligible to get a drivers license. The author points out that we never know when a seemingly simple or easy action, such as driving on the highway, will have serious consequences and making wise decisions is also important at all times. Therefore, the author uses present-day situations in such a way that readers are alert when the time comes, and use caution to avoid situations, rather than justifying a situation that has occurred.

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Car Accident Story Essay. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Car Accident Story Essay.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022,
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