Comparing Masculinity And Relationships In Reunion By John Cheever

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How one treats those that are below them on society 's ladder says a great deal about them as a person. In the short story “Reunion” by John Cheever, Charlie’s father’s overbearing masculinity, and callous treatment of “domestics” lead to his further estranging his relationship with his son. Because this man is so focused on his own image of power and superiority, and because he is rude to the waiters, he loses valuable time to bond with his son. From the get-go Cheever emphasises the classic description of masculinity in Charlie’s father, foreshadowing his attitude and actions later on in the story. Charlie immediately notices his scent, “It was a rich compound of whiskey, after-shave lotion, shoe polish, woolens, and the rankness of the…show more content…
Charlie has taken the initiative to reach out to his father whom he has not seen in three years, and receives a response via his secretary. This is the first indication of Charlie’s father’s shortcomings and their impersonal relationship. Regardless when he first lays eyes on his father young Charlie is “terribly happy to see him again”. Charlie clearly has been looking forward to their reunion, and in the forgiving way of a child, does not spite his father for not reaching out before. Furthermore, as they begin to walk out of the station together Charlie observes, “I wished we could be photographed. I wanted some record of our having been together”. At this point Charlie is proud of his father and wants the world to know they belong together. He wants to know this man, his flesh and blood. He wants to know him because he recognizes that although they are stranger, they are alike, Charlie will one day become like him. By the end of the short story, the reader gets the impression that this encounter was not what Charlie had in mind. His father yelled at the waiters and they had to relocate several times. Any pride Charlie was feeling about belonging with this man is likely gone. His father was not a good role model nor did they connect on a personal level. The story ends with this heartbreaking line “‘Goodbye, Daddy,’ I said, and I went down the stairs and got on my train, and that was the last time I saw my father”. With his last moments to interact with his young son, the father instead chooses to spend them verbally abusing a newsstand clerk. During the story Charlie is largely ignored by his father who he wanted so desperately to be like, to be with, at the beginning. Although the father makes some gestures that show he wants to impress his son, like trying to order him
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