“Standard Loneliness Package” by Charles Yu reflects on how two people who take sadness and pain just for money have to try to find love within each other. The main character is a man who has that job. He feels as though he has already lost his chance at life, until he meets the new employee, Kirthi. The narrator is a layered character, as shown by him being emotionless in the beginning, however after he meets Kirthi, he becomes a very hopeful person. These traits help advance the plot and portray his growth over the course of the story, while supporting the theme of enjoying life to the fullest.
His inexpressive nature is used to make it seem as though the protagonist is a very disconnected character when he himself realizes he is not later in the story. This is shown when he remembers telling Deepak to, “let go a little. Just a little” (Yu 12). He is reminding his friend to not be like him. He let go of the despair he feels from his job, but he has also let go of everything else. The narrator believes he has lost his one chance at living the life he has always wanted. This mentality can also be seen after he loses Kirthi. “Maybe the problem isn’t that I don’t have a life. Maybe the problem is that I don’t want a life” (Yu 30). Even after experiencing what his life could be, he is quick to revert back into the person he once was because he once again believes that his chances have been dashed against the rocks. Both of these show how he believes he will never be able to escape the path he has made for himself.
Despite his beliefs, when he meets Kirthi, he becomes hopeful and optimistic for the first time in a long time. Not long after Kirthi gets hired, her and the narrator pass each other in the hall. Kirthi doesn’t interact with the narrator, but he can feel something spark between them.
“She is consciously not-looking at me… I can tell she knows I am trying to not-look at her. We are both not looking at each other… For the first time in a long while, I have hope.” (Yu 17)
The protagonist was so sure of who he was going to be that he never stopped to realize that he could have changed things. Now he knows that there is still a chance to turn things around. Soon after, he falls deeply in love with Kirthi and wants to be closer to her. They become close, but she still refuses to let him in. Even so, he holds on to the hope he has found with her. “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?” (Yu 22) The protagonist wants to be with Kirthi so much that even if it all ends badly, he would still be happy that he had felt for someone other than himself. In the beginning, he convinced himself that it was all over before it had even begun. Now, the protagonist realizes that there is more to life than he could have ever known.
By looking at his dispassionate yet hopeful traits, it brings out his complex personality in a way that drives the plot and communicates the theme in a meaningful way. From his old friends to his breakup with Kirthi, his dull manner shone through. But as a contrast to those low moments, the protagonist’s affection for his girlfriend let him see the hope in the days ahead. Although sometimes it may seem like all is lost, good things can happen in the most unexpected of places.