Analysis of Woody Allen's short story "Sam you made the pants too fragrant"

Term Paper, 2008

14 Pages, Grade: 2,0




1. “Sam, you made the pants too fragrant”
1.1 The story
1.1.1 A summary of the plot
1.1.2 A possible background of the story
1.2 Analyzing the story

2. Conclusion: Woody Allen and progress in life

3. Bibliography


Woody Allen, born Allen Stewart Konigsberg[1], is a Jewish artist, who is mostly known as filmmaker – but he carries several faces and puts his work into several fields. Although his movies often seem to deal with the same topics, Allen never concentrates on only one genre, as we worked out during our seminar and the expert sessions. Besides his widely spread image of the intellectual and humorous filmmaker, he put his thoughts into prose and stand-up comedy, too; he wrote articles for magazines like New York Times, Playboy or The New Republic[2] and of course he is known through his roles in his own films. By acting out his own roles he has written, Woody Allen as the private person and the public known Woody Allen, somehow melted together; so, the viewer can find more personal elements in Allen`s movies, as he or she may expect. Or better said, he by some means performed himself through the stories of his films.

Besides the fact that Allen mostly acted out the role of the protagonist in his movies and barring that the topics of the movies seem to be repetitive, there are other typical elements that continuously appear in his movies, what in this paper – as it already have been in our expert session – will be depicted as “allenesque elements”. These are for instance the neurotic characters, the Jewishness (that apparently refers to his private persona), the psycho-analysis, the fusion of reality and fiction, unhappy relationships, love-affairs and the element of the anxious behavior, towards special issues, of some of his characters are just a number of the main subjects that are typical of Woody Allen stories. But Allen`s audience is not only “confronted” with these topics in his movies; as already mentioned, he also developed his ideas in prose and short stories.

With his book “Mere Anarchy”, in 2007 Woody Allen brought out his fourth collection of short stories and the first since 27 years. During this time he was mostly occupied with his movies; nearly every year, a new Allen movie was released. His new short story collection “Mere Anarchy” contains 18 pieces of which ten have been published in the New Yorker.[3] Furthermore the reader can encounter the well known and already mentioned “allenesque” topics that in this case are for instance the doubt or self-doubts, the fact of loving women he cannot reach and the preference for progressive topics that were part of some of his movies, too. After his other collections of short stories, in “Mere Anarchy” Woody Allen again shows his satirical attitude and his special way of humor. Just reading the titles of the short stories, one can guess that while reading the stories, there will more behind them than one expected to be. In “Mere Anarchy” Allen further depicts situations out of the protagonist`s lives that are at the same time absurd, somehow ordinary but nevertheless exceptional. Considering that in Surprise Rocks Disney Trial, Mickey Mouse has to witness against the Disney corporate group during a lawsuit or that in Sam, You Made The Pants Too Fragrant, there is a man who gets into intensive care because he got an electrical shot from a suit, it is obvious that Woody Allen holds his popular line of satirical and extraordinary way of writing. So, his classic attitude and quality remains for the typical Allen reader. Nevertheless, it is somehow like with his movies, there are some stories that one may like or dislike; everyone has to choose the fitting story or movie on his own.

Sam, You Made The Pants Too Fragrant is the story that will be relevant for this paper. In our expert session we discussed the problem, why especially this story was chosen to be discussed in class. Some reactions of the students contained that in this story Allen depicts his characteristic of old fashioned humor, as there are references to S.J. Perelman and the Marx Brothers (name of the protagonist: “Duckworth” à “Ducksauce/Duckbill/Ducksoup”) and that he again illustrates his attitude towards progress and technology as he already has done in his 1971 movie Bananas. Introducing, this paper will give a short outline of the short story and then concentrate on special issues within the story by analyzing it and giving a possible background for the short story. Furthermore the reactions from our expert session in class and Woody Allen`s position towards progress in life will be discussed in the conclusion part.

1. “Sam, you made the pants too fragrant”

1.1 The story

Sam, You Made The Pants Too Fragrant is the third story from Woody Allen`s short story collection “Mere Anarchy” from 2007. The short story is based on the article “The Year in Ideas: Enhanced Clothing”, by Gina Bellafante, from The New York Times Magazine, from December 15, 2002[4]. Besides Sam, You Made The Pants Too Fragrant, there are other short stories in this book which are also catalyzed from newspaper or magazine articles that are based on real events. So, the short story is introduced by this article which discusses the phenomenon of “Technologically Enabled Clothing”[5]. Out of the article`s topic, this short story developed and Woody Allen worked in some of the real facts that are mentioned in the article. That is for instance the fabric that can imprison different scents, in order to smell good all the time or shirts that can recharge cell-phones. In the following, first the story will be summarized, later a possible background and a further analysis will follow.

1.1.1 a summary of the plot

Benno Duckworth, the protagonist of the story, is a simple and undemanding man who writes articles about anapestic dimeter. One day, by accident, Duckworth meets his old friend Reg Millipede. They have a kind of superficial conversation – especially caused from Millipede´s side – about technological clothing. Duckworth notices a spout, hidden under Millipede`s lapel, from where he seems to drink something. He asks Millipede about the meaning of this specialty and he starts to inform Duckworth about his extraordinary suit that contains a “built-in hydration system”[6], a tank and a computer that is connected to a pump which functions as some kind of pipeline for his drinks. Millipede recommends and advises Duckworth to visit the special tailoring establishment of “Bandersnatch and Bushelman” on Savile Row, in order to buy some new clothes and to do up his outer appearance.


[1] Comp.: FUCHS, Wolfgang J.: Die vielen Gesichter des Woody Allen. Köln: Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1986, p. 7.

[2] Comp.: YACOWAR, Maurice: Loser Take All. The Comic Art of Woody Allen. USA: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., Inc., 1979, p. 73.

[3] Comp.: (20.07.2008)

[4] Comp.: ALLEN, Woody: Mere Anarchy. UK: Ebury Press/Random House Group Company, 2007.

[5] ALLEN, Woody: Mere Anarchy. p. 25.

[6] ALLEN, Woody: Mere Anarchy. p. 25.

Excerpt out of 14 pages


Analysis of Woody Allen's short story "Sam you made the pants too fragrant"
University of Siegen
Mere Anarchy? Woody Allen Films
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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492 KB
Hülya, Akkas, Woody Allen, Sam you made the pants too fragrant, Film, Regisseur, New York, Barbara Strysand, Sam
Quote paper
B.A. Hülya Akkaş (Author), 2008, Analysis of Woody Allen's short story "Sam you made the pants too fragrant", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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