Fred is going to have to earn his keep and Caleb is going to be the techer. But at least he has something he knows he can work at to win Mary’s hand, unlike Dorothea who has no path available to her.
Fred’s father is a pain. Typical middle class loading over someone with their own success and making everyone else feel small. Caleb is compassionate as we should be and not “superior” to others.
Great insght: “Caleb was in a difficulty known to any person attempting in dark times and unassisted by miracle to reason with rustics who are in possession of an undeniable truth which they know through a hard process of feeling, and can let it fall like a giant’s club on your neatly carved argument for a social benefit which they do not feel.”
Disclaimer: I never look at the name of the author before reading a story in the New Yorker, I cover it up with my hand so as not to be influenced by gender, race, or if they’re famous already. I take each story as it is with no preconceived notions.
This was a lot of fun, evil fun, but the sort of fun you’d like to have to get back at people who have been making you miserable.
Basically this is all a set up for our narrator to get back at their family. We learn everyone else is a gossip and a backbiter and generally miserable, but we never learn why the narrator is – until the end. Once we learn the narrator’s secret everyone in the family who had been maybe not quite a real character, or a bit of a generic blob, snap into focus. And the narrator isn’t exempt, either. They are just as guilty of being a bastard (pun intended, I suppose) as everyone else.
I find this to be a strange story because a lot of it is pretty generic, though with some very clever writing in it: “We had betrayed one another too many times to be able to sit comfortably around the same table together.”, and “Every visit to an aged parent is in the nature of a farewell.” In fact I was starting to think this was going to be yet another New Yorker dud that paints broad strokes about people who the author stereotypes and speaks in cliches – that’s a popular genre in this magazine, unfortunately.
Yet I think the author senses how dull a lot of these stories are and plays us for fools. He gives us a generic set up full of Roz Chast cut-outs (except for Floyd and Granma) and then turns it on its head. When we learn who the couple are that arrives late to the party and we see how the narrator was testing everyone there to see if they’d give the newcomers a chance, we learn to not take everything at face value, to look a little deeper under the surface.
Don’t judge. That’s a simple moral lesson, but we never learn it.
Charlie is actually family, had before been adopted and now back. And after they all complained about him at the party now they have to eat crow. Ha! Oh, that’s wicked fiendish. I like it.
Ok, that was really good. I get it now. Clever story, very good!
I guess her cooking was not so great. I don’t think she cares, either. She cooked meals for people who refused to like them.
Who are the new people? They took attention away from Granma, that’s bad.
This could be any family, and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. Not a lot of full characters here except Granma and Floyd.
I like that everyone is getting warmer, you can feel tension. I like Granma being described as a cat.
“These people who take nitroglycerin for their heart,” Floyd said. “Why don’t they explode?” I laughed.
“I am not on anything.” Granma is great.
Personal note : I never understood how some people could enjoy a thing that is making everyone else involved miserable. How do you not let that tension creep in? Maybe I’m not good at spite.
They’re in Boston or Massachusetts. I actually figured that at the clam chowder and soda crackers line, not the ‘wicked bad’. I miss my people
Interesting history lesson of Cuba and the boat named Granma.
The cast of characters seem a little stock, like a Roz Chast cartoon. Floyd is fun, however. No idea about the narrator yet.
“We had betrayed one another too many times to be able to sit comfortably around the same table together. ” I like these little insights so far.
Great first line!
We jump forward to the party then back to as they arrive for the party. Is time used in the story creatively?
I like Granma, she’s not having the small child all over her.