A Bogus Connection
The author of the short story “Reunion”, John Cheever, is known as one of the greatest short story fiction writer of the twentieth century according to Marvin Chilton of the Telegraph.Enlisting in the army led him to become an alcoholic and have marital problems. This is relevant because one of the main characters in the story faces similar problems in his life.
The story begins by Charlie feeling a very firm relation to his father and wishing for moments like this last forever. The boy “[wishes they] could be photographed…[and have] some record of [them being] together.” Charlie and his father go into restaurants only to get kicked out due to the father’s belligerent behaviour. As Charlie spends more and more time with his father,he realizes his father is impolite and arrogant. Ultimately, Charlie realizes why his mother divorced him and he too discontinues his association with his father.
Deborah Triesman and Richard Ford’s discussion of John Cheever’s classic story “Reunion” in the New Yorker Fiction podcast adds life and discovers hidden meanings. Ford’s vocal performance throughout his reading of the story helps the reader to understand the themes of the story and the background of the characters. For example, when Charlie first sees his father, Ford shows excitement through his voice since the boy hasn’t seen his father in years.When the boy is about to leave, Ford’s voice shows disappointment, since Charlie realizes his first impression of his father is inaccurate throughout the story.
The main themes of this short story are disappointment and separation. Charlie and his father don’t get any opportunities to bond and talk since the father is determined on beingdisrespectful of servants. In the end of the story Charlie says, “I have to go, Daddy,”…”it’s late”(Cheever, 1962, p.45) without as much as a hug or a kiss or any other emotion. This occurs because Charlie regrets contacting his father in the first place since he isn’t a changed man.Charlie states two times about him and his father being separated; “The last time I saw my father was in Grand Central Station” (Cheever, 1962, p.45) and “… [I] got my train, and that was the last time I saw my father” (Cheever, 1962, p.45) are two quotations from the text that help me understand Charlie’s disappointment and separation from his father.
The story leaves a very big hole in the beginning and at the end. It is briefly mentioned that the mother divorces the father but the reason is lost in the boy’s happiness of seeing his father.As the story progresses, the father’s boorish behaviour helps me understand why the mother divorces him and why Charlie never sees him again, filling in all the holes.
This story has been successfully migrated into a new medium; a podcast. The voice of Richard Ford helps the reader understand the voices of the characters and why they are projecting certain voices at certain times. The hidden meanings in the text are left to the listener to comprehend in any way they want. John Cheever leaves much to the imagination and Richard Ford does an excellent job helping the listener interpret the meanings.
In conclusion, it is Richard Ford’s voice that helps me bring John Cheever’s words to life and fill in all the gaps left to the reader’s thought. At first, I led myself to believe reading rather than listening to the story helped me understand it better until I paid attention to voice projection, which is the inaccuracy of first impressions, as Charlie realizes throughout the story.
Treisman, D. (2016, May 10). “Richard Ford Reads John Cheever”. The New Yorker Fiction Podcast from Conde Nast Publications Retrieved February 06, 2017, from
Cheever, J. (1962, October 19). Reunion. Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1962/10/27/reunion-8
John Cheever. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/american-literature-biographies/john-cheever