“Reunion” is a short story written by John Cheever in 1962, who was an American novelist and short story writer. John often writes about stories taking place in the suburbs, in cities close to where he was born1. “Living with strangers” is a story written by Siri Hustvedt, who also is an American novelist and essayist2.
“Reunion” takes place in the suburb in New York, where the young boy Charlie, who is the narrator in the story, meets his father after several years of separation. Charlie’s thoughts about his father are very positive, “He was a big, good-looking man and I was terribly happy to see him again.” (p.1 l.12-13). The father seems to be a very busy business man, “His secretary wrote to say that he would meet me at the information booth at noon” (p.1 l.7-8), it is not his dad who is replying, which may indicate that his father does not put so much effort in meeting his soon, like Charlie does in meeting his old dad. Charlie is so happy to see his dad, “I wished that we could be photographed” (p.1 l.18), and he does not want to forget this moment, he is very proud of his dad.
Charlie must be in his late teenage years and approximately 17 years old, in the fact that he can travel on his own and he is not allowed to drink. In this age, boys tend to look up to their parents, especially their dad. It seems like Charlie’s role model is his father, and that is not uncommon in his age “I knew that when I was grown I would be something like him; I would have to plan my campaigns within his limitations” (p.1 l. 11-12), given these facts, it seems like Charlie has planned his future after his father’s life, so that emphasizes that his father is his role model.
Despite Charlie’s age, the father wants to have a beer with him. Charlie agrees to that, because he trusts his dad and everything he does is right and must not be questioned. In every society and culture, there are some unwritten rules and norms, which you have to follow. “Chop-chop. Then he clapped his hands”, an unwritten rule is e.g. that you never clap for the waiters attention. Charlie’s father’s behavior is very immature and it shows his arrogance towards other people, people in the lower end of the society. But is does not seem like Charlie is effected by his way of acting. It is like Charlie is using the phrase from the story “Living with Strangers” – “Pretend like it isn’t happening” (p.1 l.21). His way of seeing his father, is affected of his high expectations of his role model. “His boisterousness in the empty restaurant seemed out of place”, Charlie knows that his father is not acting in a normal way, but he does not say anything about his behavior, maybe because he does not want to argue with his father.
After entering plenty of restaurants, only to get a beer, “He put his arm around me and pressed me against him. “I’ll walk you back to the station. If there had only been time to go up to my club” (p.2 l.73-75), his father uses his valuable time with his son, running after a beer in various restaurants and acting in an unacceptable way. People on the restaurants is not paying attention to them, because like in “Living with strangers”, “Nobody else had given the woman a first glance, much less a second” (p.1 l.30-31), this is part of the pretend-like-isn’t-happening law. In “Living with strangers” it says “And acting, as everyone in the city knows, can be dangerous” (p.2 l.50-51), maybe the father would have acted very dangerously, if people would had said something to him about his behavior, but no one seems to take that chance.
At the end of the story, Charlie tries to say goodbye to his dad, but he is arguing with a guy at the newsstand “Now just wait a second, sonny,” he said “Just wait a second. I want to get a rise out of this chap.” (p.2 l.83-84). Even at the very end, the father acts in an unacceptable way. The son had to catch his train and went down the stairs, while the father argued over a newspaper. What is the message of this story? Do we have to expect nothing and then you won’t be disappointed? The shortcomings about his dad and the preconceived view about him and how he has evolved, have given him unrealistic pictures about his father and ended with a big disappointment. Compared to the message in “Living with strangers”, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, this can also be used on Reunion. If Charlie did not judge his father on his looks, maybe he would have got another view on him. So in short terms, if he did not have expectations – he would not get disappointed.
Urkund has received the document – Analytical Essay – Reunion.docx – 03-09-2014 23:10:00. It was sent from [email protected] to [email protected] The document has been allocated a reference ID – D11417005.