When first read, Bel Kaufman’s “Sunday in the Park” seems to be a story about two families in a public park; one family is good and likes to avoid conflict, and the other is a more hostile family consisting of a father and a son, who both seem to be bullies. There are clues in the story, however, that can lead readers to change their opinion about which family is bad or good. Although I was unsuccessful in finding any critical articles to support my thesis about “Sunday in the Park,” I believe that there is enough evidence in the story to suggest that my interpretation of the story is a valid one.
In the beginning of the story, the author gives the reader images of the two families that demonstrate the level of goodness in each family. In the first paragraph, Morton, the father of the “good” family, is described as, “reading the Times Magazine section, one arm flung around her [the mother?s] shoulder” (965). Also, the mother?s attitude toward the day is seen when she thinks to herself, “How good this is” (965). Morton and the mother happily watch their son, Larry, play in the sandbox in the park. All these images suggest a happy family that has a good life. Even the thought by the mother expresses the goodness that she feels toward her family and life, in general.
On the other hand, the author explains the “bad” family, Joe and his father, with the use of images that demonstrate “the bully” in each of them. Kaufman introduces Joe by writing, “The other boy suddenly stood up and with a quick, deliberate swing of his chubby arm threw a spadeful of sand at Larry” (965). The speaker describes the father of the child by saying, “He did not look up from his comics, but s…
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…is father are enjoying a beautiful day at the park just as Larry?s family is. From Joe?s father?s perspective, his kid can throw sand in a public sandbox unless he says not to. The reader knows that the throwing of the sand is deliberate, but Joe could have thrown the sand just for the simple purpose of getting Larry?s attention so he could have someone to play with. There are clues to suggest that Larry?s mother, in a way, envies Joe and his father because they can stick up for themselves. She is ashamed of her husband and son because they don?t “fight their own battles.” The suggestion that Morton is abusive toward the boy also helps the reader to see that Larry?s family is just as bad, if not worse, than Joe?s family.
Kaufman, Bel. “Sunday in the Park.” The Harper Anthology of Fiction. Ed Sylvan Barnet. New York: HarperCollins, 1986.
Analysis of Dream Children
Analysis of Dream Children
The question is asked as to why Gail Godwin titles her story “Dream Children” when it seems that only one dream child is mentioned. It is simply because there is more then one dream child, and they are present in more places then just the McNair’s house. Gail Godwin makes the assumption that many people are or were dream children, including Mrs. McNair.
Mrs. McNair was a dream child when she was young, and she has carried the special abilities of dream children with her into adulthood. The dream children travel through the night to places other then their bedroom. They visit places in their sleep. When Mrs. McNair was a child, “she had gone through a phase of walking in her sleep” (Godwin 1044). Her parents began to worry that she might drown or hurt herself when she traveled in her sleep, so they sent her to a psychiatrist. After seeing this psychiatrist, her “night journeys had stopped” (1045). Now, in her adult life, she travels in her sleep again.
It all began when Mrs. McNair met the child she believed to be her own. Unfortunately, her child died at birth, but in a tragic hospital mix-up she is handed a baby belonging to another mother. This brief meeting with the newborn child affected her profoundly. This terrible situation, that never should have happened, caused her to look at life differently. She never forgot the baby that was handed to her. Mrs. McNair thought of him all the time, and she believed he thought of her.
The child she had possession of for a brief moment would sometimes come back and visit her at night. Mrs. McNair would lie in her bed in a “weightless though conscious state’ and “send her thoughts anywhere” (1045). It was in this state that she heard the s…
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…an projects himself to a house when he is miles away. All these examples are of people or animals traveling to different places.
Her psychiatrist told her when she was young that “the race of children possesses magically sagacious powers” (1046). Mrs. McNair still believes this because of the proof she has. This young child, who she was the mother of for a short while, visits her from a far away place. This child possesses magical powers and so did she. She has the ability to travel on another level with the child she always wanted.
Godwin, Gail. “Dream Children.” The Harper Anthology of Fiction. HarperCollins. New York. 1991. 1041.
Contemporary Literary Criticisms. Vol. 22. Gale Research Company. 1982. Detroit, Michigan.
Contemporary Literary Criticisms. Vol. 8. Gale Research Company. 1978. Detroit, Michigan.