Reality and Perception in 20/20 Story by Linda Brewer


Occasionally, the writers transmit the idea or moral in their works of literature indirectly. It may seem that the story has no sense, though, to understand the theme the author intended to regard, it is essential to analyze every detail. An illustrative example of such an occasion is the story 20/20, created by Linda Brewer. It is extremely short and may appear to be pointless to some extent at first glimpse. Nevertheless, in case the perspective is changed, it is evident that despite containing only 1 page, it addresses multiple topics, for instance, gender differences, reality and perception, freedom, and friendship. This way, the purpose of the paper is to review the story and describe how the topic of reality and perception is covered in it.


20/20 describes two people, Bill and Ruthie, who are traveling together by car. Interestingly, the story begins in the middle of the action, namely in the middle of their trip. Bill criticizes Ruthie for her inability to argue and prides that he can vindicate his judgment in arguments on abstract topics. Linda Brewer highlights: “By the time they reached Indiana, Bill realized that Ruthie, his driving companion, was incapable of theoretical debate. She drove okay, she went halves on gas, etc., but she refused to argue” (16). Bill struggles to understand his companion, as he is “used to East Coast women who disputed everything he said, every step of the way” (Brewer 16). However, Ruthie is born in a rural area and is easygoing, so her perception of the world is entirely different from Bill’s one.

Bill is not impressed by communication with his companion and her intellectual qualities. Moreover, he is annoyed when Ruthie claims that she sees impossible events, such as “Indian paintbrush. A golden eagle” (Brewer 16). While their trip is continuing, she also notices a bigfoot. Such an observation result in reflectors being nailed to a tree stump. Bill offers to drive the car to prevent further problems. Ruthie answers him: “I’m, so glad I got to come with you” (Brewer 16). She has another point of view on the situation and on the entire journey, which differs from Bill’s opinion.


The qualities of Ruthie are exaggerated to some extent to highlight her specialty and her perception of the world. Linda Brewer describes the character: “her eyes were big and capable of seeing wonderful sights” (16), including “a handsome genius in the person of Bill himself” (17). She sees everything from the lens of her uplifting manner. Therefore, the author is willing to contra distinguish the travelers and demonstrate that the perception of the world is capable of changing reality. Bill is driving near Ruthie, though he notices nothing of the events Ruthie mentions. He does not see an Indian paintbrush, a golden eagle, a bigfoot, a white buffalo near Fargo, and others. However, the last observation is impactful for Bill, and he decides to “let it ride” (Brewer 17). He understands the differences between him and his companion and their worldviews and accepts them.

Attention should also be paid to the title of the story. 20/20 measure refers to vision and means that a person can see perfectly without wearing glasses or contact lens. Such an intriguing title also addresses the topic of perception and reality. Objectively, the reader cannot decide which of the characters transmit the real sequence of events. Both of them are driving together in the same location, but their observations and emotions are different. Therefore, their reality is dependent on their perception, and for this reason, Bill cannot agree with his companion, as he does not share her views.


This way, despite being short, the story contains important wisdom. Reality is defined by perception or perspective, and a person can choose which one to follow. Otherwise, people see only what they are willing to see. As Ruthie is focused on positive experiences and is determined to notice wonders, she observes them, while Bill sees only the simplicity and foolishness of his companion. None of them are right, and none of them are wrong. Both of them live in a different reality, which is dependent on the perspective.


20/20 is a short story, which should be read for a long period. It may seem to be senseless, though it addresses deep topics, which are indirectly transmitted by the author and cannot be understood while reading for the first time. Although the plot may appear to be confusing and not engaging, it is essential to consider all the details to see the real meanings. One of them regards the connection between perception and reality. The writer contradistinguishes the characters and their emotions from the trip. As Bill and Ruthie have different perspectives, their reality is not similar at all too. While Ruthie is impressed by the wonders observed in the trip, Bill is annoyed with Ruthie’s easygoingness and inability to argue. It presents one of the most important morals of the story.

Work Cited

Brewer, Linda. “20/20.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. New York: W.W. Norton, Inc., 2011. 16-17.