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John Cheever's "Reunion"

In: English and Literature

Submitted By sarnerdetbare
Words 1038
Pages 5
The short story “Reunion” is about a boy named Charlie, who hasn’t seen his father for a very long time. He hasn’t seen him due to the reason that his parents divorced eachother exactly three years ago. As a result of that, Charlie makes an appointment with his father, simply to see him again. During this appointment, they visit four different restaurants, where the father’s dissatisfaction and bad mood gets them kicked out every single time. While being in the restaurants, the father’s behaviour towards the employees is very aggressive and arrogant, which eventually results in them getting kicked out. After visiting a ton of restaurants, Charlie remembers that he has a train to catch. Time passes by and he has to leave. But, as he wants to leave, his father kindly offers him to purchase a newspaper – an offer he can’t refuse. While the father is ordering a newspaper, he yet again gets aggressive and angry with the employee working there. Charlie simply hasn’t got time to wait anymore as he’ll miss his train, so in a rush he manages to say goodbye and silently walks away. This was the last time he saw his father.

From an environmental point of view, the story takes place at the Grand Central Station in New York City. As Grand Central Station is a train station, it is logical that both Charlie and his father go by train to meet up. In the story, we hear how Charlie schedules time to see his father while he waits for his next train. Therefore it seems like Charlie is used to travel by train, as he can schedule his time properly. He’s familiar with going by train, but whether he is familiar with the streets of New York remains unknown to us. Someone else, who surely knows his way around in New York City, is Charlie’s father. Having greeted eachother at the Grand Central Station, both Charlie and his father decide to go to a restaurant. And as they settle down in a quite random restaurant, Charlie’s father begins to act hysterically being very impatient. As a servant offers his service, Charlie’s father continues being hysterical and very rude. The servant won’t put up with the way, Charlie’s father is treating him, and so he kicks both of them out. This happens three more times, until Charlie has to leave. Speaking from an economical point of view, Charlie’s father seems to be a wealthy man. We don’t get to know anything about the father’s social position, but you could say that since he is able to visit not only one, but four different restaurants, he must be slightly wealthy. Furthermore, the father has a secretary, which simply confirms that he has a good job and possibly a lot of money. With that said, having a lot of money doesn’t mean, you’ve made it in life. The father might be successful when speaking of career, but as a parent he kind of fails. I would definitely say that the father doesn’t stand out as a good parent. Before he got married, he probably lived a life, which included long and hard workdays. But the fact of the matter is that everybody gets a choice – either you pick your family or a great and successful career. If we say that the father continued with this way of living after his wife gave birth, it’s logical to everyone that she left him. If he only focussed on his career and didn’t pay enough attention to his son, it simply means that he involved himself enough in the upbringing of his own son. And I think that makes him a bad parent, not to mention how he ignored his son at the different restaurants.
Charlie, on the other hand, stands out as an innocent, but also very naïve boy. He stood in the middle of his parent’s quarrel and saw them splitting up. As a result of this divorce, Charlie didn’t have the opportunity to see his father on an everyday basis. And I get the impression that Charlie simply wants to be with his father, as much as he’s been with his mother. But then again, there must have been a reason why his mother left his father. Charlie just hasn’t made any considerations why, and when he meets up with his father for the first time, he has certain expectations, which quite frankly are too unrealistic. If you look at the end of the story, it sounds as if Charlie is fed up with his father’s bad and egocentric behavior: “I have to go, Daddy, I said. It’s late. Now, just wait a second, sonny, he said. Just wait a second. I want to get a rise out of this chap. Goodbye, Daddy, I said, and I went down the stairs and got my train, and that was the last time I saw my father.” If Charlie had a good time with his father and really wanted to stay with him, he would’ve missed his train and gotten on a new one later on. Not only does Charlie see his father in a different way now, he possibly also ends with understanding why his mother wanted a divorce.

A possible theme in the story could be love or disappointment. We hear how Charlie is willing to contact his father after a long period of time. This shows that he is concerned about his father and what he is doing. When they meet at the information booth, Charlie feels like his father is a stranger, but at the same time, he feels like the stranger is his father. These incidents indicate that the son still loves his father, and that he will love him for the rest of his life, even though he’s disappointed with him because of his way of acting. The son claims in the end that he will never see his father again. That’s a lie. Charlie is, as mentioned in the story, similar to his father. This is mainly because of genetics. So basically, every time he looks in a mirror, he will see a glint of his father. And that will remind him and how much he loves him.…...

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