The Old Clock Shop


The old clock shop is a story that explores the extent of compassion and kindness, keeping in mind the differences between people no matter where they come from. The crux of the story is to evoke a sense of sympathy for Ray, the owner, and the two robbers. In this tutorial, we will establish that peaceful resolutions are always better than violent endings.

Exploring Different Perspectives as Shown in the Story

The old clock shop begins in Salt Lake City, USA, on Christmas Eve. Ray, the owner, is about to close the store down when he encounters two guys consisting of a younger and an older one. Their mannerisms suggest that they are up to no good which stresses Ray out. The younger of the two stands guard while the older assesses the owner as he approaches them. A tense atmosphere can be sensed as Ray tries to think of a possible solution to this. The older guy seems to be planning his next course of action which allows Ray some time.

From Ray’s perspective, these adults are clearly in distress. Therefore, he gestures to the board above stacking clocks and watches as he enquires if the older guy requires a loan for his watch.

From the older guy’s perspective, Ray seems a gentleman who in the face of peril chooses a rather non-violent way out. Since Ray chooses to understand their problem, the older guy exchanges his watch for fifty dollars.

The story ends with both the characters peacefully resolving a possible conflict. Therefore, it would be right to assume that the story asks us to think compassionately before making a judgement and choosing the safer, more peaceful option in the face of peril.

Understanding the Story


The theme of the story centers around the idea of peace and bringing peace through resolution. Ray could have turned violent and called the police thereby leading to severe consequences for the both of them but he chose to put himself in their shoes first. This level of understanding and compassion depicted by Ray was a rare feat in itself and allowed Ray to not only save himself but help two people who might have ruined their lives by making a bad decision.


The moral of the story can be understood in two parts. The first is the importance of being compassionate. Ray’s compassion is the reason why he was able to save his store, money, and probably his life. The second is the importance of not judging before we speak. Had Ray chosen to look at them as dangerous criminals rather than someone in distress, he might have lost more than his store. By putting himself in their shoes, Ray was able to help them out.


The story is set in the USA and takes place in an old clock shop on Christmas Eve, right before closing. Therefore, it supposedly harbours two central characters with one side character.

There are three characters present in the story given as follows:

  • Ray, an old clock shop owner working on Christmas Eve.

  • An older guy posing as the leader of the robber duo.

  • A younger guy posing as the guard of the robber duo.

Unlike A Tale of Two Birds, a clear distinction made between good and evil has not been made. It would be wrong to assume that the robbers were evil while the owner was good as they might have been forced by their circumstances. Choosing to peacefully resolve a conflict and not engage in any violent tendencies indicate that the robbers were only acting out due to their own personal problems and were in no way, bad people.


Q1. “Kindness never fails.” How does the story justify the aforementioned statement?

Ans. The story clearly justifies the aforementioned statement as it allows us to explore both the perspective of the owner and the perspective of the robbers. The owner’s kindness is one that can be painted as impartial, unconditional, and understanding. By choosing to look at the robbers as humans, he proved that his kindness indeed never fails. The robber also was kind but in an unconventional way.

Q2. The owner could have called the policemen and put the robbers in prison. Would that be a good move?

Ans. No, that would only derail the lives of the robbers further. By institutionalizing them, the owner would have ensured no room for change. This would have only led to severe consequences and maybe, loss of life. As we understood from the story, a peaceful resolution led to a happy ending. A violent move would have led to a sour and possibly, terrible ending for all the characters involved in the story. Therefore, it would not be right to assume that the move would be good in any way.

Q3. Does Christmas play a role in the robber’s need for money?

Ans. Yes, it is possible that the robbers were only in the store to find money to feed someone for Christmas or buy them something for Christmas using the stolen money. We believe the reason Christmas has been specified at the very beginning of the story is that the author wants us to understand that feeding one’s family for Christmas might have been a possible circumstance.

Q4. What major characteristics of the owner have been outlined in the story?

Ans. The major characteristics of the owner outlined in the story are:

  • Clarity

  • Sharpness of Mind

  • Kindness & Compassion

Q5. Why did the younger guy stand guard while the older entered the store?

Ans. The younger guy stood guard while the older entered the store to intercept any incoming police vehicles. There was a high risk involved in the robbery as the owner could have rung or alerted the policy. Standing at the door would have allowed the younger guy freedom to alert the older guy the minute he spotted a police vehicle.

Updated on: 05-Dec-2022


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