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HOME > Short Stories > The Plain Man and His Wife > IV - IN HER PLACE I
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 The plain man is not always mature and successful, as I have hitherto regarded him. He may be unsuccessful in a worldly sense; but from my present point of view I do not much care whether he is unsuccessful in that sense. I know that plain men are seldom failures; their very plainness saves them from the alarming picturesqueness1 of the abject2 failure. On the other hand, I care greatly whether the plain man is mature or immature3, old or young. I should prefer to catch him young. But he is difficult to catch young. The fact is that, just as he is seldom a failure, so he is seldom young. He becomes plain only with years. In youth, even in the thirties, he has fanciful capricious qualities which prevent him from being classed with the average sagacious plain man. He slowly loses these inconvenient4 qualities, and develops into part of the backbone5 of the nation. And then it is too late to tell him that he is not perfect, simply because he has forgotten to cultivate the master quality of all qualities—namely, imagination. For imagination must be cultivated early, and it is just the quality that these admirable plain men lack.  
By imagination I mean the power to conceive oneself in a situation which one is not actually in; for instance, in another person’s place. It is among the sardonic6 humours of destiny that imagination, ............
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