A Summary and Analysis of Philip K. Dick’s ‘Beyond the Door’

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University) ‘Beyond the Door' is an early by Philip K. Dick (1928-82), and by no means one of his most famous or most sophisticated tales. But it's an intriguing little story which is worthy of more analysis than it has generally received. It's included in the second volume of Dick's collected stories, Second Variety . Written in 1952 and published in Fantastic Universe in 1954, ‘Beyond the Door' can loosely be labelled ‘fantasy'. Summary Here's a brief summary of the story's plot. It concerns a married couple, Larry and Doris. Doris is fond of cuckoo clocks so Larry buys her one that was made in Germany (technically, the home of the cuckoo clock ) and brings it home. However, he offends her when he tells her he bought it wholesale. There's already trouble in their marriage, we soon learn, and Doris is having an affair with Bob behind her husband's back. She takes a shine to the cuckoo clock, and is convinced that the little cuckoo which comes out every fifteen minutes to announce the time returns the admiration, and likes her back. By contrast, Larry is convinced that the cuckoo hates him. She decides to show the cuckoo clock to Bob, but when he comes round to see it, Larry unexpectedly returns home from work and quickly puts two and two together. He throws them out but, having originally told Doris to take the cuckoo clock with her, decides that he will keep it as he paid for it. In the weeks following his wife's departure, Larry becomes increasingly annoyed by the cuckoo, which comes out only erratically and appears to do so only reluctantly. Eventually, Larry takes a hammer to the clock and forces the bird to make an appearance. When it does come out, it pokes him violently in the eye and he falls back off his chair, dying from the fall. The story ends with Doris and Bob hearing the strange nature of Larry's death. Bob hints that the death may have been murder, with the cuckoo being […]

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