Dark Humor, or Black Comedy, is a type of comedy that often makes light of morbid situations that are often considered taboo. It is used frequently in literature, film, and other outlets of comedy, such as stand-up. In literature, it is used in a number of ways, predominantly either to explore vulgar issues, provoke serious thought, or to remind of the mortality of its characters. The main point of commonality seen between “A Small Good Thing”, and “Whoever Was Using This Bed” is this element of dark humor. “A Small Good Thing” uses dark humor in the character of the baker, who inadvertently reminds the couple, Howard and Ann, of their dying son, Scotty. In his constant calls, he asks the couple if they had forgotten their “Scotty” cake, reminding them of the tragedy they face. In “Whoever was using this ...
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..., moving them into a morbid topic of their own death, frightening them as it wakes them from their peace of sleep, and as Jack comes home from work. “My hands are shaking. I think my voice is doing things.” In “A Small Good Thing” the telephone calls from the baker to Ann and Howard as they come home, attempting to relax, remove them from that possibility, instead forcing them to, again, face the mortality of their son and his own potential death.
In “A Small Good Thing” and “Whoever was using this bed”, Carver uses dark humor, or black comedy, as a main feature of the plot. The two stories show commonality in how this technique is implemented, in its relation to the characters and their insecurities, in relation to the resolution of the stories, and especially in the use of the telephone to establish dark humor and remove the characters from their sense of safety.
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