Robert Coover’s “The Babysitter” tells the story of a single evening through the point of view of different characters, shifting voices every paragraph. Their stories are interconnected and overlapping to establish the events taken place that night: a babysitter takes care of the three children while their parents, the Tuckers, attend a friend’s party. Coover laces the evening’s events with the imagination of the characters, such as Harry Tucker’s lustful fantasies of the babysitter, Mark and Jack’s plan to make the babysitter a rape victim, or the tragic death of the baby. Coover chose to write the story this way for the reader to better understand the characters and leave the ending to the imagination. This way the reader is more involved.
In the second paragraph, it seems Harry Tucker flatters himself with sexual thoughts. In his underwear, he speaks to himself in his head, seemingly about his desire of the babysitter. The paragraph begins in the voice of Harry Tucker in first person, but shifts to a third person narrator, who paints the picture of his creepy smile and balding head. Harry Tucker’s point of view is perceived as disturbing and perverted, questioning himself about his desires without his shorts on. Assuming he is thinking about the teenage babysitter, which he vividly imagines intercourse with throughout the night, alludes pedophilic behavior. The significance of this passage is an insight to his dark, twisted thoughts. It establishes his character as a sexually motivated individual, which later becomes clearer in his attempt to leave the party to “check on the kids”. His willingness to act out his desire also displays his disloyalty to his wife and kids. It also seems Harry Tucker, whether intentionally or not, walked in on the babysitter bathing in the tub which she has apologized for. Judging by his intrusive behavior and detailed fantasy’s later in the story, this was not an accident. Ironically, his son too attempts to sneak a peak of the...
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