John Cheever - Reunion

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Analysis: ”Reunion” by John Cheever

We all know the feeling and the thoughts, which come to our mind, when meeting someone for the first time after several years. “Does she look the same? Will there be any awkward silences or feelings? I wonder how much he has changed” Your stomach might turn upside down right before the meeting, too. “Reunion” from 1962 by John Cheever, is a short story told through the eyes of a young boy. Most children, who meet their parents after a long period, would be overwhelmed with joy. Even though our main character is very happy to meet his father, does their reunion end happily, too?

In the first paragraph we are introduced to a young boy and his father. Charlie, the boy’s name, is looking forward to meeting his father, whom he hasn’t seen for the past 3 years – ever since the divorce of his parents. The boy’s age must be around 17 years old, since he is old enough to travel by train alone, but too young to be served alcohol at the restaurant. “He was a stranger to me”(p.1 l. 7), shows that he is very anxious about his upcoming meeting with his father. But soon after he says “But as soon as I saw him I felt that he was my father”(p.1 l. 9),. This implies that he is more relaxed when he sees his father, and also happy about the reunion. “I smelled my father the way my mother sniffs a rose” ”(p.1 l. 17), implies to the reader that Charlie is happy to be reunited with his father again. He emphasizes his feelings by saying “I wished that we could be photographed. I wanted someone to record of our having been together. ”(p.1 l. 20-21), He also looks up to his father, and has always done so: “I knew that when I was grown I would be something like him” ”(p.1 l. 10-11),

In the same paragraph we are also introduced to his father, whose name isn’t mentioned during the story. An image of the father being a busy businessman forms in the mind of the reader. On top of that, it is not the father himself, who replies to Charlie’s message – but his secretary. This is a very formal way of communicating. After 3 years you would at least expect the father to reply with his own words. “His secretary wrote that he would meet me at the information booth at noon, and twelve o’clock sharp I saw him coming through the crowd”(p.1 l. 6-7),, indicates that the father is very punctual, which is required of a businessman in general. After their meeting at the train station, they go out for lunch. The father wanted to show Charlie “the club”, which the reader must assume is a “Gentlemen’s Club”, but there is simply not enough time. By this wish, the father indicates that he perhaps wanted to impress his son. The father takes his son to a restaurant instead. Here, the behavior of the father is very unexpectedly boisterous. He is extremely loud and arrogant, as he says “My father hailed the waiter in a loud voice “Kellner!” he shouted. “Garçon! Cameriere! You! ”(p.1 l. 26), When the waiter doesn’t react to his loudness he claps and says “Chop-Chop! ”(p.1 l. 28), This action catches the waiter’s attention and says that he does not like to be clapped at. The father answers in an impertinent way “’Calm down, calm down, sommelier’ my father said ‘If it isn’t too much to ask of you – if it wouldn’t be too much above and beyond the call of duty, we would like a couple of Beefeater Gibsons.’ ”(p.2 l. 1-2), Perhaps due to the father’s occupation, he believes that he can get away with ordering people of a lower rank around. Subsequently, the father repeats his behavior at 3 other restaurants. His behavior is another example on how he wants to impress his son, but fails to do so, since none of the restaurants are willing to serve them. In the start, though, Charlie mentions that the father smells of Whiskey – and the father does also receive a drink at one of the restaurants – so the father was drunk not only during their gathering, but also before they even meet up. This might also explain the disrespectful and pert...
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