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Raymond Carver Story “A Small Good Thing” Essay

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Updated: May 5th, 2021

Juxtaposition of the two main characters and emotions

Raymond Carver story “A Small Good Thing”, brings to our attention the struggles a family undergoes when confronted with the sudden and untimely death of their only son, Scotty, who died in a fatal accident on his birthday. The main characters undergo sudden emotional change as a result of the accident. Every change of event causes them to change emotionally in some ways. Carver successfully managed to use a unique sense of writing where he makes the readers to feel sorry for the Weiss family and not Scotty who had an accident during his birthday.

Juxtaposition of Ann and the Baker

The choosing of Scotty’s birth day cake set the pace for the forthcoming changing journey of Ann. Ann strikes the mind of the reader as a self-preserved woman. At the beginning of the story, we come across Ann as one of the protagonists in the story as she tries to order and give instructions for her son’s birthday cake. Here again, Ann being a self-conscious woman, as depicted in the mind of most readers, goes a step further and tries to make a connection with the baker and we see her imagining that a man of his age must have clearly and with no doubt undergo through many similar events and special times of cakes and birthday parties of his own children during his entire life time.

As Ann is patiently waiting for her son to get medical attention while at the hospital, she comes across Franklin’s family and again we see, even though she doesn’t know them, we see her feelings are compelled and she wants to tell them about her own son. This is a great sense of bonding and connection; we even find her later checking with the nurse to know how Franklin is doing; this is when she came to see how her son was doing. When Scotty unfortunately dies, we find the doctor being between a hard place and a rock, as he tried to break it to Ann and her husband that their son died, but as event later unfold, the doctor connects with Ann and the two went ahead and hug each other. Later on, we see also Ann being connected to her son when she requests if she can stay with Scotty’s body to no avail, but later when they were driving away from the hospital, she kept looking back.

The Baker

The baker strikes the mind of the reader as an old man full of pride. During the first encounter with Ann, we find the baker as not willingly to engage with Ann in any friendly talk, making Ann to be uncomfortable prompting her to assume that he too had children. The baker simply does not struggle to bond or connect with anyone, in fact, he tends to isolate himself whenever someone tries to connect with him. Later on, his loneliness materializes where he makes endless disturbing calls to Ann and when Annfails to collect the birthday cake, we see the Baker making a lot of disturbing phone calls to Ann’s home. All these uncalled-for traits that the Baker possess are as result of being without any kid, and thus very lonely. From the onset, the baker looks like he is leading a busy life full of happiness but deep inside he feels like his life is empty and not worth living.

The other aspect that catches the reader’s attention is the central theme of emotion loneliness and a sense of loss vs. happiness. The story begins on a happy note where a birthday for Scotty is underway, we see her mother Ann, engaging with the baker as she explains what the baker should add to her son’s birthday cake. The happy mode was short-lived as it disappeared as soon as the family learns of Scotty’s accident. Scotty’s accident caught everyone on the wrong foot as it was supposed to be a day full of joy and celebration. The Baker too appears to be leading a busy and a happy life but we come to learn later on, that is not the case. The baker comes in leading a lonely life as he has no children of his own prompting him to feel empty.

When Ann and her husband lost their only son, it seemed to them that they have lost everything. They appear dejected and hopeless, Ann answers to any phone call assuming it could be the hospital with news about her son. The Franklin’s family also appears hopeless while in hospital looking to everyone for answers. A good scenario is where they confused Ann for a nurse and asked her about their son, Franklin. The Franklin family too loses their son and this makes them lead a lonely life there after we learn they gave up on hope. But despite all the harsh calls that the Baker had made to Ann, at the end of the story we find the three sharing a meal and cooling things off.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Raymond Carver Story “A Small Good Thing”." May 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/raymond-carver-story-a-small-good-thing/.


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