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The story "O' Youth and Beauty!" by John Cheever is about the Bentley family, who live in Shady Hill as a happily married couple, who have their fair share ups and downs. Cash Bentley, the father of the household, is a former track star who has many money problems, and at times can be very touchy. Cash also had a charming quality of stubborn youthfulness, and felt they he always need to prove his youthfulness to his peers. Everytime the Bentleys went out drinking with their friends Cash would be reminded of his age and thinning hair and would feel the need to prove his youthfulness by hurtling living room furniture. One night Cash doesn't make one of his hurtles and ends up breaking his leg, and this has severe effects as everything around Cash begins to change for the worse. While Cash is out of work and unable to prove his youthfulness he begins to fall into a deep depression and begins to drink more alcohol than usual. Throughout the story events occur which make Cash fall deeper into depression and ultimately cause him to have a mid-life crisis. I feel that Cash's mid-life crisis is the main theme of the story and Cheever shows the effects and impacts that mid-life crisis can have on a person's life.
When reading about Cash Bentley I got the feeling that he has been depressed for years because of the way he drink everyday after work and becomes really irritable when
something simple goes wrong. An example of Cash being unreasonable is when he gets really angry when dinner isn't ready and drags the argument, with is wife Louise, on for
days and days. The only time cash ever seems to be happy is when he us proving his youthfulness ands athletic ability by hurtling living room furniture. I feel that once Cash breaks his leg this is the turning point of the story and triggers the mid-life crisis because of the way he becomes so depressed and consumed in his own self pity.
When Cash breaks his leg everything takes a turn for the worse. He becomes so depressed that his friends stop inviting him over to their parties. While forced to stay home Cash begins to grasp the reality of how quickly his youth is fading away. One night Cash looks tenderly toward Louise and realizes how discouraging her figure has become.
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Other events make me feel as if Cash is experiencing a mid-life crisis. Cash begins drinking alcohol in the basement with all the lights off and all alone, partly because he feels he has no alternative and partly because he is deeply depressed by his recent realizations. Another night, at a club, while Louise and friends of Cash mingled with other couples of their own age Cash sat at the bar because it seemed Cash felt too young to be talking with that group of old people. Also, on a different night Cash becomes seized with jealousy when he observes a party next door and realizes that "all the unbeautiful facts of life that threatened to crush Cash-have not touched a single figure in the crowd of young people at the party." All these different events make me believe
that Cash was having a mid-life crisis due to the fact that he was no longer able to prove his youthfulness by performing his obsessive ritual of jumping hurtles.
Cash Bentley always viewed himself as being agile, athletic, and much more youthful than any of his peers. Everytime any of his friends would remind him about his age or thinning hair he would remind them of his youth by hurtling living room furniture. The turning point is when Cash breaks his leg and can no longer prove himself to anyone and this causes him to become deeply depressed, morbid, and an alcoholic. I suppose Cheever wrote this story intending to reveal the impacts and effects a mid-life crisis can have on a person's life, and I really enjoyed this story and believe Cheever portrayed the events well.