Reunion by John Cheever
Question 1: Characterize the father and his behavior. What do you think is motivating him to behave a he does? Do you think the son should have said something to him about his behavior? Explain.
Charlie’s father is boisterous and arrogant. He mistreats waiters as though they were his slaves. The example he sets for his son is not one that anyone would look up to. It had been three years since he was divorced by the narrator’s mother and for the few minutes, the narrator was with the father he could see why the divorce came about. The father is an alcoholic that drinks a lot which makes him more boisterous. It had been long since the two of them met and one would have expected the father to be more interested in reconnecting with his little boy. However, for the ninety minutes, they had to bond they end up spending it moving from one restaurant to another. I think after the father got divorced it hurt him and it could have been the reason behind his behavior. Separating with someone that was ones very close to you can be catastrophic for anyone, especially if it is your fault and you are the one at lost the most. The father in the story had a sad life and took it out on strangers he came into contact with. I do not think it would have been wise for Charlie to comment on his father’s behavior. From the story, though we are not told how old the narrator is, he must have been quite young and chances are his father would not have listened to him. Moreover, Charlie was not close to the father, “He was a stranger to me (Cheever 14, 1).” Therefore saying something to him about his behavior would have been overstepping without knowing how he would react.
Question 2: Were you surprised by the last line of the story? Do you think that he will ever want to see his father again? Would you in this situation?
At the beginning of the story, the narrator was very excited to meet his father. And immediately they met he was so proud of that moment. “I wish that we could be photographed. I wanted some record of our having been together (Cheever 14, 1).” But after stepping time with the father his perspective of him changed. But I would not have expected it to change to the extent of Charlie never meeting his old man again. According to the last line of the story, the departure of the narrator marked the end of their father-son relationship. I seem to like the father did not want to ever see his father. Charlie was disappointed with the meeting at the Grand Central Station. As the two characters moved from one restaurant to another the narrator was silently observing and assessing whether he would ever want to follow the father’s footprints. We can assume that Charlie concluded that there was nothing good to emulate from his father. When the narrator said that he has to get his train the father said, “I’m sorry, sonny. I’m terribly sorry.” From this, we realize that he knew he was not acting right and that Charlie was disappointed in him. Their meeting was not as successful as anyone would have expected. Being in Charlie’s shoe I think I would have been frustrated but would still have given the father at least one more chance. Maybe this day of the meeting was not one of his best days and granting him another chance to amend things might have turned out great. It is also likely that the father resented the impression he portrayed and locking him out would only worsen his condition.
Cheever, John. Reunion. 1962. Accessed 8 Sept. 2019.