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Selfish Love in the Story Reunion by John Cheever Essay

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Updated: Jan 14th, 2022

The short story Reunion is a wonderful representation of the selfish love of a parent conveyed through the first-person narration (the son) and multiple symbols that John Cheever introduced skillfully. Although it is a short story the author managed to provide a clear understanding of how quickly the son got disappointed in his father and the feeling of excitement about the meeting changed to the wish never ever see the father again. The author’s writing style is a brilliant man to convey the relations between protagonists, yet giving an opportunity to think up what is missing without multiple descriptions but through heated dialogues.

The story starts with Charlie telling how impatiently he is waiting for the meeting with his dad. They have not seen each other for three years. The upcoming meeting seems to be a thrilling and exciting event for Charlie, and the author gives a clear understanding of the son’s eagerness: ‘… as soon as I saw him I felt that he was my father, my flesh and blood, my future and my doom’. (Madden, p. 254) John Cheever wonderfully describes that Charlie wants to inherit his father and the overall writing style in the first paragraph gives the precise notion of how important this meeting is for Charlie. He loves his dad and cherishes this moment for a chance to see, talk, and sit next to his ‘daddy’: ‘I hoped that someone would see us together. I wished that we could be photographed’ (Madden, p.254).

However, the following events changed the boy’s impression of his dad just in a span of one-page writing. John Cheever offers several dialogues with the waiters of the three restaurants that shift Charlie’s perception of dad for the worse. Using the words ‘kellner, garcon, cameriere’ (Madden, p. 255) for the waiter and ultimately ‘sommelier’ has a completely different meaning for the story rather than presenting a father as a highly educated person. The author shows that the father wants to impress his son though the way he behaves is completely inappropriate for the place they are in.

Next, John Cheever introduces the reader to Charlie’s utmost desire to escape. The father wants to buy a newspaper – the symbol of a souvenir, something that Charlie would keep as a reminder of his dad, which the boy does not want to because of his dad’s behavior near the newsstand as well: ‘…sell me one of your disgusting specimens of yellow journalism?’ (Madden, p. 256). Outstandingly, the author turns the boy’s desire to be like his dad in the beginning of the story into the wish to never know and see the father again: ‘I went downstairs and got my train, and that was the last time I saw my father’ (Madden, p. 256) – this was the prompt escape of the boy who wanted to be photographed with the dad in the introducing paragraph.

John Cheever presents the story very effectively for the reader to understand how the feeling of the child’s anxiety to see the father changes to awkwardness and shame for standing next to the dad. The author unveils skillfully how the dad failed to impress the son although loving him (the pad on the back, the hug, or handshake). The writing style is very effective to get the pathetic situation and sympathize with Charlie until his departure. There are Charlie’s thoughts revealed in the beginning though he becomes silent further on. His words, however, would be unnecessary because nothing more should have been saying.

Work Cited

Madden, Frank. Exploring Literature Writing and Arguing about Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Selfish Love in the Story Reunion by John Cheever." January 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/selfish-love-in-the-story-reunion-by-john-cheever/.

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