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Peace and Calm in Today Will Be A Quiet Day

Peace and Calm in Today Will Be A Quiet Day

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.

The Difficult Lesson of The Enormous Radio

The Difficult Lesson of The Enormous Radio

“The Enormous Radio” by John Cheever begins with Jim and Irene Westcott who are an average American couple with an average American family. Cheever describes them as middle-aged, having two young children, a pleasant home, and a sufficient income. On the surface they seem to have a perfect life, but underneath this is not the case. In the course of the story, Irene’s imperfections are revealed by a hideous radio. The radio was bought to give the Westcott’s listening pleasure, but then they discover it can hear all the neighbors’ conversations. Irene becomes so obsessed with eavesdropping on her neighbors’ conversations, that it blinds her from her own problems.

It seems as though Irene’s life is innocent, and she does a good job of keeping her life looking as perfect as she can. Cheever describes how she selects her living room’s “furnishings and colors as carefully as her own” (817). The radio did not fit into her decorations, so she thought of it as standing “among her intimate possessions like an aggressive intruder” (817). Burton Kendal stated that, “Even before the radio starts broadcasting conversations from the neighboring apartments, its mere presence in the household oppresses the atmosphere” (128). This is a clue to the reader that the radio was not only an interruption to Irene’s decor, but an interruption to her life as well.

As Irene became obsessed with the radio, she “began to feel depressed, instead of delighted as she once had been” (Giordano 57). The radio revealed to her the most private and intimate secrets of her neighbors’ lives. It showed the conversations that nobody would share with others. As Jim claims to his wife, “It’s indecent. It’s like loo…

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… in her community. According to Giordano, the Westcotts’ “lives, on the large scale of events, were just another example of ordinary life in just another apartment in just another city” (58).

Irene has the radio on and she turns to it in hopes that “the instrument might speak to her kindly,” but “the voice on the radio was suave and noncommittal” (829). This reveals that everyday life continues and everyone has everyday problems, including Irene. In the end, Irene’s attempts to hide her problems fail. She realizes that everyone has problems and that you cannot avoid them by putting on blindfolds. It only makes life harder if we do not solve our problems and come to grips with the fact that nobody has a perfect life.

Work Cited

Cheever, John. “The Enormous Radio.” The Harper Anthology of Fiction. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

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