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Exploring Relationship in Raymond Carver’s “Why Don’t You Dance?” Essay

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Updated: Apr 15th, 2019

The story Why Don’t You Dance? is a short story by Raymond Carver that reveals complex relationship between a man and a woman, as well as between an individual and the surrounding world. In particular, Carver recounts a case of a girl and a boy visiting a yard of a solitary man who decides to sell his furniture.

The couple decides to buy some items, but further negotiations make the young woman be more interested in the reasons for putting out the furniture outside. With regard to the above, the story Why Don’t You Dance? explores complex relationships between a man and a woman and analyzes such topics as love, power, and cultural identities that influence these relationships.

While depicting the main events in the story, the author resorts to descriptive methods. In particular, Carver is more focused on depicting specific actions and objects that surround the main hero. Although the story does not explain the reason why the man puts all his furniture on the lawn in the yard, one can definitely notice that this action does not fit the accepted cultural practices.

In the story, the girl is concerned with this situation by saying, “Those people over there, they’re watching” (Carver 6). In response, the man, however, seems to be indifferent to the reaction of the surrounding and states, “Let them watch…I hope you like your bed” (Carver 6).

While interpreting these phrases, it can be seen that the girl care much for the opinion of others whereas the man strives to attract more attention. In addition, stereotypic thinking is also typical of a boy who is also dependent from the societal prejudices and stereotypes. He is concerned with what other people might think of him if he would dance in the yard. He tries to protest by recognizing that he is drunk.

In the story, the author juxtaposes the young couple with the man to highlight the solitary existence of the latter. The heroes, therefore, reveal their attitudes through action they perform.

In particular, the couple pays attention to what other might think about their behavior and, therefore, the boy constantly seeks approval and affirmation: “He just sat up and stayed where he was, making believe he was watching the television” (Carver 2). Although the boy is more concerned with his behavior, the girl also pays attention to unconventional reactions of the man toward them.

The complexity of relations between heroes is skillfully revealed through actions and behaviors of the heroes. In particular, the heroes are involved in monotonous conversations about bargaining the price for the furniture. However, the owner of the furniture emphasizes that the young couple can do everything they want because this is his territory.

At the end of the narration, the man proposes the girl and the boy to dance by saying, “Go ahead…It’s my yard. You can dance if you want to” (Carver 6). He keeps repeating the same by emphasizing that he is free of doing everything he wants. In contrast to the man, the boy and the girl feel as the people around the yard are watching them. Nevertheless, they still follow the man’s advice and ignore the attention from the outside.

Despite the fact that the couple does not resist the man’s request to dance, the girl still notices something strange about the man’s behavior. In this respect, the author agrees, “there was more to it, and she was trying to get it talked out” (Carver 6).

The phrase, however, outlines the overall essence of the story because it highlights the problem of solitary and prejudice existence of people in society. They are also subjected to norms and boundaries dictated by moral and ethical principles.

However, the very existence of these principles prevents people from shaping self-identity. In addition, the narration also highlights the limits within which people are prohibited to do what they want. Bound by prejudices, the couple is unable to find out what actually happened in the yard.

Nevertheless, the girl is still overwhelmed with the case and she tries to figure out what happened and what could actually happen later. Though the heroes do not mention directly the feelings and emotions, their remarks and actions reveal more ideas and problems, which is another approach used by the author.

In conclusion, the story under analysis unveils complex relationship of love and power. The main characters of the story are overwhelmed by their own stereotypes and prejudices that prevent them from successfully interacting with each other.

The boy and the girl seem to be subject to stereotypes and cultural practices and, therefore, they are concerned with what other people might think about them. In contrast, the man seems to be indifferent to what the surrounding people think of him.

By means of description and juxtaposition, the author manages to render the problem of cultural identity and loneliness in the story. Use of dialogues also contributes to the overall idea of the narration.

Works Cited

Carver, Raymond. Why Don’t You Dance? 1-6. PDF File.

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"Exploring Relationship in Raymond Carver’s “Why Don’t You Dance?”." IvyPanda, 15 Apr. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/exploring-relationship-in-raymond-carvers-why-dont-you-dance/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Exploring Relationship in Raymond Carver’s “Why Don’t You Dance?”." April 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/exploring-relationship-in-raymond-carvers-why-dont-you-dance/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Exploring Relationship in Raymond Carver’s “Why Don’t You Dance?”'. 15 April.

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