A Family in Turmoil in Today Will Be A Quiet Day

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A Family in Turmoil in Today Will Be A Quiet Day In Amy Hempel’s story, "Today Will Be A Quiet Day," a father takes the day off to spend time with his two children at a place called "Petaluma." The title suggests that this day was one of calmness and relaxation, but in reality the title should be " A Family in Turmoil." Throughout the trip, the children argue, complain, and bicker which seems to suggest that the day is rather depressing and quite humbling for the father (Baker 170). The father’s good intentions for quality family time failed. When I first read the story, I felt that their relationships were a little detached and never quite came together. Suffering from the death of a close friend, the boy tries to ignore his feelings and jokes on his sister. His friend was a mental patient who threw himself off a building. Being really young and unable to cope with this tragedy, the boy jokes to his sister about the bridge collapsing. "The mention of the suicide and of the bridge collapsing set a depressing tone for the rest of the story" (Baker 170). Arguments about Raisinettes force the father to settle it by saying, "you will both spoil your lunch." As their day continues, their arguments become more serious and present concern for the father who is trying to understand his children better. In complete agreement with Justin Oeltzes’ paper, "A Sad Story," I also feel that this dark foreshadowing of time to come is an indication of the author’s direct intention to write a sad story. At lunch the children are rowdy and need to be calmed down. The father says, "Maybe we could try a little quiet today." The girl replies, "You sound like your tombstone. Remember what you wanted it to say?" Her brother joins in by saying, "Today will be a quiet day. Because it never is around us." (Hempel 1204). Shortly after completing their meal, the girl asks about her dog. "Did anyone remember to feed him?" she asks (Hempel 1205). The boy again brings death into the picture by saying that he forgot to feed the dog and then proceeds to remind her about her previous dog. She was told the dog was taken to a sheep farm where, in reality, the dog was put to sleep. Naturally, the girl began to cry.

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