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It seems that everyone thinks that all disaster has struck in Amy Hempel’s "Today Will Be A Quiet Day." I disagree. I think that everything might seem to be going bad, but when the day is over the children’s father realizes that everything is absolutely fine. The situations in the beginning of the story lead you to believe that the story will be depressing. But throughout the story I pick up little hints that this day was exactly what everybody needed: to get away from everything. At the end of the day everyone seems to be peaceful and calm.
The father seems to be a single dad who has picked his children up for the weekend. The mother isn’t mentioned in the story, which makes me believe that the parents are already split up and maybe going through the finalizing of the divorce papers. The children happen to be staying with their mother throughout the separation, and they are now with their father for the weekend. Since he doesn’t get to see them that often now, he decides to take a day to spend completely with the children and go on a little trip. The father does this because he "wanted to know how they were, is all" (Hempel 1202). They seemed to be doing great on their own, but he just wanted to make sure.
During the trip, the father realizes that there is a lot of hostility between the kids. The brother keeps nagging on his sister, trying to scare her. When the father sees this, he says that people think they are safe but they really are just thinking that they are invisible because their eyes are closed (Hempel 1203). The family was safe together until the separation. The father was thinking that everything was fine between the kids, but when he got them together he saw how sarcastic they were to each other. The father senses all the depressing conversation and tries to lighten it up by asking if either of the kids knows any jokes. This attempt was shot down though when the joke not only didn’t have an understandable punch line, but it dealt with an unlaughable matter.
When they finally made it to Pete’s, the restaurant where they were going to eat, the kids are still bickering back and forth.
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"Peace and Calm in Today Will Be A Quiet Day." 123HelpMe.com. 17 Jun 2019
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The story of the pet dog shows how people’s feelings have to be taken into consideration. You see how easily the daughter’s emotions were brought out when the dog is mentioned. After this conversation, the daughter is ready for the ride home. This shows she is ready to handle her feelings and move on.
At home, they all talked for a while and everything was fine. Absolutely nothing bad had happened. The father felt good about his relationship with the kids. We know this when we are told that the father "doubted he would ever feel not better, but more than he did now" (Hempel 1206). The story ends happily. As the father states, "there is no bad news" (Hempel 1206).
I disagree with both Tara Baker and Justin Oeltze. They both feel that there is some big disaster waiting to happen. I think that they look into the story too much. They take everyday small talk and turn it into great examples of foreshadowing. They actually think the dad’s tombstone epithet is foreshadowing of his death. I hear people say all the time what they would like to be remembered for when they die or what they would have liked to accomplish; this doesn’t mean they are going to die now because they make this statement. I think Baker and Oeltze need to cheer up their views.
Brian Motzenbecker, on the other hand, also agrees that this story doesn’t have to deal with disaster. Motzenbecker mentions that there could be a divorce involved. This is along the same lines as what I believe is going on. Motzenbecker seems to have understood the story in a general sense. He didn’t read deep into the lines; he just read the story and understood the idea he was trying to make the reader understand. I like this system.
"Today Will Be A Quiet Day," is just a simple story about a father and his two kids dealing with a situation that is becoming more and more common in today’s society. The father is trying to be sure that his kids are handling the separation between their parents as well as possible. The father just shows concern for his children, and it seems that he just wants reassurance that they still care for him. The day goes by and everything is fine in the end; the father feels that his kids "are all right" (Hempel 1206).
Baker, Tara. "Is Today Really Quiet?" Ode To Friendship And Other Student Essays. Ed. Connie Bellamy. Connie Bellamy, 1997.
Hempel, Amy. ‘Today Will Be A Quiet Day." The Harper Anthology of Fiction. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: Harper Collins, 1991. 1202-1207.
Motzenbecker, Brian. "Does It Spell Disaster?" Ode To Friendship & Other Essays. Ed. Connie Bellamy. Connie Bellamy, 1997.
Oeltze, Justin. "A Sad Story." Ode To Friendship & Other Essays. Ed. Connie Bellamy. Norfolk, Va.: Virginia Wesleyan College, 1997.