Download John Cheever (Bloom's Major Short Story Writers) by Jenn McKee, Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold PDF

By Jenn McKee, Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

Provides plot summaries, lists of characters, and demanding perspectives of the author's most famed brief tales.

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Extra info for John Cheever (Bloom's Major Short Story Writers)

Sample text

John seemed to want his brother badly beaten, Newhouse thought. The fratricidal impulse inherent in the bloodied head, the slaughter by shuttlecock, and—as imagined—the near-fatal shove out the window crops up repeatedly in Cheever’s fiction. Sometimes the dark brother is a real character, given a name, rivalrous over a girl or a piece of furniture. Sometimes he is an alter ego determined to obliterate all that is valuable and worthy in oneself. In either case the drive to destroy this other is strong, even though it is accompanied almost always by a corresponding compulsion to care for and nurture him.

Jim fixes the radio, and it seems as though everything has returned to normal, except that when he comes home that night, the Westcotts quarrel with a fury to rival any of the fights that the radio has ever broadcast. Cheever’s hypothesis, of course, is that discord is not innate to our natures—rather, it is caused by an awareness that it exists. It is a theme that is common in Cheever—the Westcotts fall from grace, with the radio functioning as Pandora’s Box or, if you will, Eden’s apple, and whatever other temptations of knowledge that have stumbled mankind.

It would be only a slight exaggeration, in fact, to claim that the apartment building in “The Enormous Radio” (1947) is a central character in the story; it is as alive as any of the “real” people in the narrative. The animation of inanimate structures is an ancient literary device, and such writers as Émile Zola had fully explored the thematic possibilities inherent in the technique long before Cheever tried it. Few writers, however, have been able to achieve the intensity of effect that Cheever creates with seeming ease in “The Enormous Radio” by blending realism, fantasy, comedy, and pathos.

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