Therese, die in het boek stage designer wil worden en in de film fotograaf, overdenkt in het boek het leven tijdens haar baantje in een warenhuis,

It was the pointless actions, the meaningless chores that seemed to keep her from doing what she wanted to do, might have done – and here it was the complicated procedures with moneybags, coat checkings, and time clocks that kept people even from serving the store as efficiently as they might – the sense that everyone was incommunicado with everyone else and living on an entirely wrong plane, so that the meaning, the message, the love, or whatever it was that each life contained, never could find its expression.