Conflict in the Short Story Weekend

Conflict in the Short Story Weekend

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In the short story "weekend" by Ann Beattie, there is one main central conflict between the main characters of Lenore and George. This conflict arises from that fact that George and Lenore have a child together, live in the same house, yet they have no apparent relationship. George is always bringing back women to the house in front of Lenore and she hides how it hurts her deep down. George’s character is portrayed as an alcoholic older man who does not seem to care too much about anything that is going on around him. While Lenore is shown to be a “simple” woman who just lets George walk all over her by showing up with younger girls and who rarely shows emotion. Although Lenore is not as simple as she leads on to George, she has a lot of emotion buried inside of her that she does not always show, and her character is a lot more complex after a second glance.
This short story is told in the Third person limited omniscient point of view through eyes of Lenore. This point of view is significant in uncovering the complexities of Lenore’s character. If it were told through the eyes of George, the reader would then believe Lenore to be actually a “simple” woman. However because it is told through Lenore we understand how she is truly feeling about this situation; “Lenore feels that she is like Julie: Julie’s face doesn’t betray emotion, even when she is interested, even when she deeply cares.” (Beattie 37) This lets the reader know that Lenore does care what is going on with George and Sarah and all of the other girls he brings home. That even though she does not show it or talk about it out loud. That she deeply cares what is going on and does not appreciate how George is acting in front of her.
The fact that the story is told through the eyes of Lenore also leaves the reader to wonder what is really going on between George and Sarah behind the scenes. For instance when George and Sarah go on a walk, we have no idea what went on during the walk, where they actually went and the feelings they truly shared for one another. This leads to what Wolfgang Iser would call “illusion,” it leads to an imaginary world the reader is left to create for themselves.

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This illusion leads to more reality for the reader and lets the reader have more control over the story; therefore becoming more involved.
Some of the dialogue in the story is also very helpful on getting insight on how Lenore is feeling. “ ‘Maybe they took shelter under a tree,’ she says. ‘Maybe they’re screwing. How should I know?’” (Beattie 41) This is one of the few times that Lenore lets out even a little emotion. Julie now can see that this relationship between George and Sarah bothers her and even hurts her. This was quite the awkward situation for Julie, and now it has become even more awkward because Julie now knows for sure that Lenore is not fine with them being there. Julie almost kind of feels unwelcome after their conversation. This dialogue also shows us how Lenore does care about what is going on and how she is almost dying to get it out and tell someone. How this is almost eating away at her inside. Even though she is actually annoyed by what is going on, she will continue to just sit back and take it.
Even after this weekend I feel the relationship between Lenore and George will remain the same and Lenore will continue to bite her tongue when it comes to George’s visitors. I feel this way because even after all of these visitors have come and gone, Lenore remains the same. Even though she is unhappy with these visitors and her and George’s relationship, she almost does not have the guts to stand up and say anything. She also probably feels she has no right to be upset, because of the fact that there is truly no relationship going on and that George is actually free to do what he pleases. When Julie asks Lenore if she cares about what is going on between George and Lenore, she responds; “ ‘What am I going to do?’” (Beattie 41) Showing she thinks she has no right to question what he is doing, and that there is nothing she can do that will change the way he acts towards her.
Although Lenore cares that her and George’s relationship is not that of a lover’s relationship, she seems to realize what their relationship really is. Towards the end of the story she recalls and old memory of them on the beach. “She was so surprised at him for breaking away that she ran with all her energy and did catch him, putting her hand out and taking hold of the band of his swimming trunks as he veered into the water.” (Beattie 48) Her role in this relationship was to keep George was getting into too much trouble, from getting lost, from getting hurt. After George told Sarah he loved her, she left crying and upset. This hurt George, and Lenore was left to make sure George was okay; left to make sure he would get through it.
Throughout this story Lenore does not truly undergo any changes, this would make Lenore a static character. In the beginning of the story Lenore is frustrated with what is going on but keeps quiet and to herself about it. By the end of the story she is still doing the same things. The antagonist in this story would be Sarah; she is the main problem in the story. She is the one standing between George and Lenore. All of the girls that George brings home could be considered the antagonists. One may also argue that these girls are not the antagonist that George actually is. George is the one that brings these women back to their house; it is not the girl’s fault. George could very well be trying to work things out with Lenore, instead of bringing younger women back and making Lenore feel the way she does; jealousy, embarrassment, and loneliness
Beattie uses what Iser would call “Illusion” in this story. She builds almost an imaginary world for the reader in that most people would not be in a relationship such as the one as Lenore and George’s. Most people would not let someone that they have kids and live with show up to the house with visitors like the ones George showed up with. The author is able to capture their reader in the story and almost let them feel as if they were involved in it. The point of view is key in doing this because the reader is let known a lot more by knowing what Lenore is feeling and thinking.
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