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kiddingtown » The Third Level

http://kiddingtow March 8, 2011


Do you think Charley was really a worried man as his psychiatrist friend and the other friends

Answer 1: No, Charley was a happy man. Even though the modern man is generally unhappy and
worried, Charley appears to be quite a normal man. The day when he found out the third level,
Charley was in a hurry to reach home, to meet his wife. A man who longs to get home and happy
with his wife is said to be a happy man. Moreover, Charley had a good collection of stamps which
he enjoyed in his free time.

Answer 2: Yes, Charley seems to be a worried man, an escapist and a maniac dreamer. Charley
belonged to the post world war time, 1984 and anxiety and insecurity were part of everyone’s
psyche. Everyone wanted to escape to a peaceful place but there was probably none. Charley,
being a similar escapist, found peace by escaping into his world of stamps and unknown places in
his imagination.

How did The World help Charley to confirm his doubts regarding the existence of a third level?

Answer 1: The World was a popular newspaper which stopped its publication before 1994. Having
reached the third level of the Grand Central Station, Charley noticed that the World was still
available. He saw that day’s edition of the World and the date, June 11, 1894 and confirmed that he
was back in 1894.

Answer 2: In the beginning, when he reached the third level, Charley was confused. Whatever he
saw in the third level told him that he had travelled back to the past. This was confirmed when he
saw The World, a newspaper of the past that was no more published. The lead story said
something about President Cleveland and it was printed June 11, 1894.

How did Charley ascertain that he had reached the 1894 world?

Charley reached the third level of the Grand Central Railway Station, New York. Amidst his fresh
amazement, Charley could not relate the possibility of being in a hundred year old world. But when
Charley observed the dim gas lamps, brass spittoons, old styled costumes of men and women,
moustaches and beards generally worn by men, string-watches and so on, Charley began to doubt
that he had become part of the old world yet he still didn’t know which year it was. Charley got it
resolved only at the sight of The World, the newspaper that bore the date of 1894 with a piece of
news of President Cleveland.

What was Charley’s strange experience at the Grand Central Station?

Grand Central Station, New York, has only two levels. One evening Charley reached this station and
then walked down the second level to catch an early train to his home. While he was on the second
level, he strangely happened to notice a doorway down. He followed the steps and reached the third
level which was never heard or seen by anyone. In the third level Charley saw a hundred year old
world and people.

How did Charley’s friends relate his stamp collecting habit to his being abnormal?

Charley had a collection of stamps. When he told his friends of his peculiar experience at the Grand
Central Station, all his friends believed that he was not mentally well. They said that he was worried
as anyone in the modern world and by spending time with his stamps he was escaping from
Does Charley agree that stamp collecting habit is a way of escapism? Why?

No, Charley doesn’t agree with this claim of his psychiatrist friend. Charley’s grandfather was a
stamp collector yet he was a happy man and he never ran away from any reality. Another stamp
collector was President Roosevelt, the American President who won the World War II. From these
two people Charley believed that stamp collecting habit does not mean escapism.

Why did Charley run away from the third level?

Charley was greatly amazed when he reached the hundred year old third level and was planning to
buy two rail tickets to Galesburg where he had spent his childhood. But when he took out his money
to pay the fare, the clerk found out that his notes were fake and thought that Charley was attempting
to fool him. He warned him that he would call the police. Seeing that there was nothing good about
police and jail in the hundred year old Galesburg, Charley ran away.

What made Louisa, Charley’s wife, believe that the third level was a reality?

Louisa, like Charley’s friends, believed whatever explanations the psychiatrist friend had given. But
later, when she received a mail from Sam himself from the old Galesburg, Louisa believed that
Charley was true to his claims and even began to search for the third level.

What do you think had happened with Sam the psychiatrist friend after he went missing from New

It was Sam who had termed Charley’s claims of the existence of a third level at the Grand Central
station a ‘waking dream fulfillment.’ Ironically this very Sam found out the third level and reached
Galesburg and even settled down there, happily.

Why did Charley think that Sam could not practice psychiatry in Galesburg?

The Galesburg of 1894 was a peaceful town with no fear of war and no unhappy people. As long as
there was no worry and fear of war, a psychiatrist was out of question and therefore Sam the
psychiatrist could not practice it in Galesburg.

What is a first day cover?

When a new stamp is issued, stamp collectors buy some and use them to mail envelopes to
themselves on the very first day of sale; and the postmark proves the date. They’re never opened;
they just put blank paper in the envelope. The envelope is called a first-day cover.

How did Sam’s mail reach Charley?

Answer 1: When Sam reached the third level and landed in Galesburg, he became part of a
hundred year old world, the year 1894, a world devoid of the modern media of communication. He
had to depend only on postal system but there was no link between his old world and Charley's
present world. In order to send a mail to Charley, Sam sent it to Charley's grandfather who still
existed in the third level and the grandfather kept the mail in his stamp collection and consequently
Charley received the mail.

Answer 2: Sam had no easy way to send Charley a message that the third level was no waking
dream wish fulfillment but a reality. Finally the shrewd psychiatrist found a way out. He was aware of
the fact that Charley’s grandfather could be alive in the 1894 Galesburg, young and of course,
having a stamp collection and that this same collection was with Charley. So Sam send a first day
cover to Charley’s ‘grandpa’ and the young man kept it in his collection and consequently it reached

Why couldn’t Sam practice psychiatry in Galesburg?

The Galesburg where Sam reached from the Third Level was a peaceful town. The people there
were much happier and had not experienced the terror of world wars and the destruction they had
caused. They were not insecure and anxious and therefore didn’t require a psychiatrist.

What is role of the stamp-collection in the story?

The stamp collection is the logic behind the story. It was Charley’s favorite pastime. In fact this
collection was passed on to Charley from his diseased grandfather. The most important fact about
this collection is that this was the only thing that connected the old world and the new: the same thing
but existing in two worlds. This collection turned out to be useful for Sam the psychiatrist friend when
he attempted to convey to Charley the truth regarding the existence of the third level; It was by
keeping his first day cover in Charley’s grandfather’s collection that Sam could make the same
available to Charley.

How does the psychiatrist turn out to be a firm supporter of Charley and his third level?

The story The Third Level is a blend of satire and irony. Initially, when Charley told his psychiatrist
friend Sam about his strange experience at the Grand Central Station, the latter dismissed it as a
dream. But the same psychiatrist was a seeker of the unknown and therefore sought the truth and
smartly reached the mysterious third level and believed it. Sam, a man who knew the unknown and
unexplained minds of several people, could only prove the existence of the third level.

Briefly describe Charley's strange experience in the third level?

Charley was an ordinary man, employed in New York and leading a normal life with no great
tensions. He used to encounter/reach new places that were beyond the reach of the other people.
One day Charley walked down to the third level of the Grand Central Station, New York. It was a
totally unbelievable experience for Charley. It was a hundred year old world there. He saw old
fashioned dressing, costumes and accessories used by the people there. People used string-
watches, eye-shades and big sized currencies. The trains ran on steam and coaches were smaller.
There were fewer ticket windows as population was less. People were more punctual than today.
He saw that the news paper circulated there bore the date of 1894 and the lead story about the
hundred year old America’s President Cleveland. Charley knew that the old world was much better
than the present world of anxiety and worries of war and insecurity and wanted to be part of the old
world. He wanted to buy two tickets for his wife and himself but couldn’t buy it because he didn’t
have the old currency. Charley tried his luck another time with old currency purchased from a coin
dealer but never again saw the door that lead to the third level of Grand Central Station.

A few questions to those who do not agree with us:

Did Charley really and Sam really exist? Aren’t they too fictitious? Why do you believe them and
disbelieve the Third Level alone? If it is because you cannot see this level, why do you believe
Gods and Ghosts and tremble when alone?