In Dreams Begin Responsibilities | Study Guide

Delmore Schwartz

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Course Hero. "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities Study Guide." August 31, 2020. Accessed September 25, 2021.


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In Dreams Begin Responsibilities | Themes


The Future

The bulk of the story takes the form of a film that is set in the past, so the narrator is viewing it from a future perspective. The narrator's father is featured in the film and has a clear obsession with his future. The man often references how much money he makes and will make in the future and becomes overly excited and impulsive when thinking and talking about the future. However, when he is met with the prospect of hearing his future from a fortune-teller, he has a drastically negative reaction and refuses to participate.

An Outsider's Perspective

The narrator watches a film of his parents from a time when they were dating, before he was born. He has the benefit of knowing how their lives will progress, and this deeply impacts his experience watching the film. He is an outsider seeing his parents from a much different perspective. The other moviegoers are further detached from the film because the couple on the screen are not their parents, so these individuals do not have the strong reactions to the film that the narrator displays. As an outsider with inside knowledge of the couple featured on screen, he feels it is his duty to somehow influence the outcome, to change what would come in the future.


Relationships include the one between the couple, each of their relationships with the woman's family, and the narrator's relationship with his parents. The man is in control of the romantic relationship with the woman. This is apparent when he steers them to Coney Island amusements, chooses the restaurant, and orders their dinner. The man has an awkward but respectful relationship with the woman's family which may be typical of a man courting a young woman. The narrator has a tense relationship with his parents, and this is shown by his strong reactions to the film. The reactions grow in intensity as the story develops, indicating the significance of relationships and the impact they have on the narrator—even before he was born.

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