Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Study the short stories of both Raymond Carver and John Cheever
It is my intention deep down this essay to field of honor the short stories of some(prenominal) Raymond pinnace and John Cheever, in doing so I propose to address the theme of maleness which runs done step forward twain of the authors stories. I sh all(prenominal) do this by considering, among other things, such subjects as Post Modernism, repellent Realism and social climate and how these argon applied to the texts Boxes and Elephant, by tender and The Season of Divorce by Cheever. The background in which both Carver and Cheever write, is rattling signifi mintt to the bearing in which both writers manful characters atomic number 18 weakened within the stories.Carver was writing in the decade of the eighties, and as such Reaganite economics had much to do with the way in which the custody lost their grip on the hunter gatherer stereo emblem which had preceded. The tralatitious role of the priapic shifted from heavy industrial work to more(prenominal) than weakened work, such as secretarial/office roles, and domestic captivity therefore diminishing their agency. On top of this many men became jobless collectable to redundancies concerned with this shift from a blue-collar society to a pink-collar society, and so this domestic captivity was enhanced. It is such men who Carver writes ab come on(predicate) in his short stories.The men who start out slipped out of this conventional male breadwinning world Cheever again, writes men relevant to the political climate in which he both lived and set his stories in. In the positioning war era of the fifties, the male role had begun to bend redundant, as during the war women were compelled to do work which had been traditionally thought of as male, and as such the myth that women were non equipped to cope with such jobs, was dispelled. Therefore in the post war when all of the men came back from war, there was a new air of womanish liberation, which they had not had to deal with previously.Gi ven this fact men became emasculated by the new found billet of the female. We can wait this treatment of masculinity within Raymond Carvers short study Boxes. The vote counter, who unsurprisingly is never named within the bilgewater is mantled within a suburban world of women and sears catalogues, in which he seems a spectator to his stomach got life. This can be seen through the style of the narrative, in which there seems to be a collapse of male agency.Throughout the flooring the cashier, seems to be completely inexpressive of his printings I dont dwell why, and its then I recall the affectionate name my dad engagementd sometimes (p. 25) The use of the statement I dont know permeates the text, and shows the narrators lack of voice comp ard with the expressiveness of the women who seems to parry his life. Contrary to a narrators role, he seems to say or think very minor, and it is in fact his girlfriend, Jill who has all of the active verbs in the story this is what we urgency, she says. This is more wish well what I had in mind. Look at this, allow you but I dont look. I dont automobilee five cents for curtains. what is it you see out there, honey? Jill says. Tell me. (p. 25)This is one of the rargon occasions when the narrator expresses how he feels about the moorage, but he expresses it only to the reader, and again within the story itself he has no voice. Jills use of the word we expresses her dominance oer the narrators character, as it shows that she makes his decisions for him and that he is not his own person but has inescapably force part of a couple, from which he can no longer be distinguished, and as it is Jill who is in the driving seat, the narrator seems to don lost his identity element altogether.It should also be noted that the way in which Jill addresses the narrator seems more befitting a pet or a dog than it does individual of equal stature and love. We can see however through this that she does not regard h im as of an equal stature to herself within the relationship, or even his life as a whole. Throughout the story the narrator has no contact with anyone of the same gender at all, except those who he sees through his window. It is significant that the men, whom he watches from a distance, eer fundament in unconditioned contrast to himself.I. e. he is on the inside confined by a five roomed cottage of his very own (Boyd), and the real men are on the outside where they are free of the constraints of domestication. Also they are always doing something masculine, whereas when he is watching them he is always doing something feminine or is feminised in some way, for example a man changes the oil in his car while he, attempts to do something masculine by finding a traffic circle and trying to smoke it while drinking a ginger ale.This thought is exceedingly feminised in that he tries to do something masculine but go short, because he simply has lost the capability to be male. So whe re a man would smoke a roach and drink a beer, he only attempts to smoke and drinks a ginger ale instead. The theme of feminisation permeates this raw and there are many other ways in which the narrator is disempowered, which I shall not go into. The image of suburbia however, is significant to this disempowerment as the surroundings represent, among other things the bland depredation of the characters lives.It also represents a highly feminised culture. One in which the sears catalogue is the coffee table equivalent of the bible, it is second gear nature to be house proud and for miles around there is no refuge from the reminder of the life, in which the characters of Carvers stories live. Within another(prenominal) of Carvers stories Elephant, we can see masculinity and the role of the male impersonateed from the point of view of a man desperately trying to hold on to the shred of power which he has, rather than succumb to powerlessness as the narrator of Boxes did.The princip al(prenominal) theme of Elephant is that of the breadwinner, however within the story this role is taken for granted, as all of his family emasculate the narrator by taking advantage of every(prenominal) male role that he could be classed under, as husband, father, sidekick, and son. Each of his family guilt feelings trips him into giving them money except his ex wife, who doesnt need to, because it is the law that she gets his money. Thats quartet people, right? Not counting my brother, who wasnt a regular yet.I was pass crazy with it. I worried night and day. I couldnt sleep over it. I was paying out nearly as much as I was bringing in. You dont have to be a genius, or know anything about economics to understand that this state of affairs couldnt keep on. I had to get a loan to keep up my end of things. That was another monthly payment (p. 80) We can see from this that the narrator refuses to let his encompass of the role of breadwinner go easily, even although he does not have the ability to sustain such a role.It is the fact that the narrator is trying so hard to maintain some sort of control, that his family are taking for granted, and conversely it is this control which is emasculating him. The brother, plays a very important role within the story, and as such I cerebrate that this is why Carver chose to make him stand out from the anticipate of his family, as more obnoxious and more amoral than the rest of the narrators family, the reason being twofold. Of all of the narrators family the brother is the only male to whom he is not obliged to help, and therefore the narrator grudges him more than the others.He has been emasculated by all of the women in the story, and his children, however his brother seems more than anyone to have picked up on this and be jumping on the bandwagon, and this creates a tensity as the narrator feels that as a male adult he should also be a breadwinner. More importantly, however is the fact that his brother epitomis es the failure of the traditional male position in life, which he fears more than anything, and as such he resents being confronted with his worst fear.Within this story, we are not given so strong a representation of suburbia, as we are within Boxes, however what we are given is a post modern minimalist image of the narrators life, in which there is very little reference to his surroundings at all. When we are given a coup doeil of his surroundings however, it is a very sparse image I didnt chide to lock the door. I remembered what had happened to my daughter but decided I didnt have anything worth stealing anyway I had a TV but I was sick of watching TV.Theyd be doing me a favour if they bust in and took it off my hands (p. 8). The strength and impact of the story lies in the fact that there is very little to say about the narrators own life. It is empty and devoid of meaning so in order to have some use in life he feels the need to touch on on his breadwinning path to destruc tion. The narrator lives in an emotional suburbia. Through this use of Dirty Realism to create an image of a life so futile and empty that it is barely worth living it at all. exactly the characters do, and it is because of this futility that many of them attach importance to minor things, such as the type of curtains they want to put up.As I have said earlier, like Carver, Cheever also portrays a portrait of the suburban American man as defeated and emasculated, and we can see this well within his short story The Season of Divorce. Within this short story traditional American masculinity, and the license to be a sexual predator, is displaced by the role of the husband and father and commitments to family life. The first two words in the story are my wife and this sets a trend for the rest of the story, in which the narrator is first and first of all part of the family unit, and secondly, if at all, a man.The main plot of the story, is about the way in which the narrator deals wi th another man attempting to usurp his position as husband, however the way in which Cheever has portrayed these events, creates a reversal of roles, as the man who tries to usurp his position is not put crosswise as very predatory, and it is the narrators wife who is in the position of power. She is flattered by the attention and allows the situation to escalate. It seems that Ethel is in the male gendered role and both her husband and her suitor portray the female reaction to such occurrencesAt nine oclock the doorbell rang e seemed distraught and exhilarated when he appeared I know that you dont like me here, I respect your feelings I respect your home, I respect your marriage, I respect your children Ive come here to tell you that I love your wife get out I said. youve got to listen to me I know that there are problems with custody and retention and things like that to be settled get out of her, get the hell out of here He started for the door.There was a potted geranium on the mantelpiece, and I threw this across the room at him, hitting him in the small of the back (p. 190) We can see from this passage that the reactions of both of the men, Trencher coming to talk rationally to him, and the narrator screaming and throwing a potted plant at Trencher, are both instinctively female reactions to such a situation. I believe that it is through the suburban surroundings in which they have been immersed that they have come to fall asleep sight of what it is to be male and as such have become homogenised to the femininity of a suburban life, in which all that sincerely exists is a home life.In conclusion, it seems that each of the central male characters within these stories, all seems to have the same fleeting moment of epiphany, in which they fancy the futility of their life, but then they forget what it meant and continue on with their lives, convincing themselves that they are happy. In a typically post modern manner both authors seem to draw heavy refere nce from their own lives and I believe that it is because of this that both Cheever and Carver seem to be protesting against this feminisation and downfall of the traditional American male.Carver however, I believe is much more controvert about the downfall of the male role, as he always ends his stories with the feeling that there is no hope what is there to tell? they leave the illume burning. Then they remember, and it goes out. (p. 26) Whereas Cheever in the end always reverts to a blissful ignorance on the part of the male character, and everyone lives happily ever after or do they?