Thursday, October 1, 2009

"The Season of Divorce." John Cheever.

One-minute review: the narrator, the husband, knows his wife’s (Ethel’s) every move, every action, but he does not know or understand her motives, her emotions. She’s a handy device to have around. He can’t understand that she wants more for herself and her life than her marriage and the kids.

Dr. Trencher falls in love with the narrator’s wife. He doesn’t try to hide his love for Ethel—and the narrator accepts that as he accepts his wife[s presence and routine activities. Dr. Trencher’s attentions bring to a head Ethel’s wasted emotional life and presents possibilities for something more than her present routine. But this crisis passes and her routine goes on.

The narrator still does not understand.

Quote: “ ‘Why do I cry? Why do I cry?’ she asked impatiently. ‘I cry because I saw an old woman cuffing a little boy on Third Avenue. She was drunk. I can’t get it out of my mind…. I cry because my father died when I was twelve and because my mother married a man I detested or thought I detested. I cry because I had to wear an ugly dress—a hand-me-down dress—to a party twenty years ago, and I didn’t have a good time. I cry because of some unkindness that I can’t remember. I cry because I’m tired—because I’m tired and I can’t sleep.’ I heard her arrange herself on the sofa and then everything was quiet.”

Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Eds. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1989.

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