How It Happened


Arthur Conan Doyle

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Stanley is the narrator’s old friend from college who appears after the narrator’s car crash. At first, the narrator is startled by Stanley’s presence, but he’s also happy to see him and his characteristic wistful smile. However, as the conversation progresses, the narrator begins to sense that something is not quite right. Despite his initial confusion after the car crash, the narrator comes to realize that Stanley has been deceased for years, having died in the Boer War. Stanley confirms this and reveals that the narrator is also dead, having passed away in the car crash. Ultimately, Stanley’s presence softens the blow of the narrator’s death, suggesting that death is not so different from life. Stanley effectively ensures that the narrator won’t feel alone in death.

Stanley Quotes in How It Happened

The How It Happened quotes below are all either spoken by Stanley or refer to Stanley . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Privilege, Arrogance, and Consequences Theme Icon
How It Happened Quotes

At the present moment I was surprised to see him, but I was like a man in a dream, giddy and shaken and quite prepared to take things as I found them without questioning them.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Stanley
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

“Stanley! I cried, and the words seemed to choke my throat – “Stanley you are dead.”

He looked at me with the same old gentle, wistful smile.

“So are you,” he answered.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Stanley (speaker)
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:
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How It Happened PDF

Stanley Character Timeline in How It Happened

The timeline below shows where the character Stanley appears in How It Happened. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
How It Happened
Loyalty, Selfishness, and Inequality Theme Icon
Death and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...standing next to him. He thinks it's Perkins at first, but he soon realizes it's Stanley, an old college friend whom he has great affection for. He describes the fondness he... (full context)
Death and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The narrator comments on the intensity of the crash. His friend Stanley nods in agreement, smiling his characteristically wistful smile. The narrator is unable to move, but... (full context)
Death and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...appears to hear him. They seem preoccupied with something lying in front of the car. Stanley touches the narrator’s shoulder reassuringly, which makes the narrator feel better. The narrator tells Stanley... (full context)