The Ritz Bar
The bar at the Ritz Hotel symbolizes Charlie’s spiritual home. Charlie is a wanderer: he no longer lives in America, his birthplace, and we never see him in Prague, his new home. He visits Marion and Lincoln’s house as an interloper, more of a resented outsider than a member of the family. The place that closest resembles his home, however, is the bar at the Ritz, and the story begins and ends there, emphasizing its importance to Charlie. Like a real home, the walls of the Ritz bar have witnessed the changes that have happened to him. Whereas he once spent many late, drunken nights at the bar in his wilder days, he now sits there to consume his one customary drink every day. Charlie and Alix, the bartender, gossip about the people they both once knew, drinkers and ex-drinkers who have fallen on hard times, just as two family members might gossip about wayward relatives. One the other hand, the bar could never be a fulfilling substitute for a real home. As Charlie sits with Alix at the end of the story, he thinks about how terribly alone he is. The bar may be the closest thing Charlie has to a home, but its comforts are inferior in every way to those of an actual household.