Reunions usually are something people look forward to they are supposed to be something joyous and nostalgic, an event that people anticipate. “Reunion” by John Cheever is a story being told by a young man named Charlie who was expecting to meet his father for the first time in three years for lunch by Grand Central Station in between his train stops. His father, a self- entitled drunk, constantly makes an idiot of himself and disrespects everyone around him lowering Charlie’s expectations of him throughout the meeting. The main themes of this story are questions of identity and disappointment. Charlie experiences both when he meets with his father and get to see the man for who he is. Even though his father acts in a condescending and arrogant way, Charlie’s able to have his questions of identity answered and faces the reality of one way a reunion can turn out, disappointing.
Throughout the story the narrator is constantly questioning his own identity because he feels that it can’t be discovered without the help of his father, that is why Charlie is so eager to meet up with his father after three years. At first, the narrator describes the man as a stranger, but because he carries the role as his father, Charlie still can’t help but to acknowledge him as family and has a desire to know him. Charlie can’t turn him away nor does he seem to have any desire to do so, this is shown particularly in the beginning of the story when Charlie says that he “was terribly happy to see him again”(page 201). Although the narrator should be cautious about the situation and take the meeting with a grain of salt since he doesn’t really know the man, because he feels a need to find part of himself in his father his expectations are amplified. Charlie expects that because he is related to him that he will turn out like him that is why later on in the story Charlie says “I felt that he was my father, my flesh and blood, my future and my doom”(page 201). By saying this he is comparing his future self to that of his father’, which depending on how it goes, in Charlie’s mind would seal his fate as to what kind of man Charlie will become. His questioning of identity shows us one of the reasons, besides plain curiosity, as to why Charlie wanted to meet up with his dad at all. Clearly, he came with a purpose as to why he decided it was time to meet with this stranger who couldn’t even bother to reply to his son personally “His secretary wrote to say that he would meet me at the information booth at noon”(page 201). This further creates an outline of what kind of man the Charlie’s father is, while making Charlie reevaluate why it is that he is depending on someone else to find his own identity.
Another theme that comes up in this story was disappointment either Charlie’s to his dad or his father to everyone else. Right away we see the dad’s dismay when he can’t bring his son to his club, throughout the story the dad mentions his club numerous times by comparing each restaurant they go to as lower and unrefined. We start to get a pretty good depiction of what kind of character the dad is by how the narrator describes him in particular the way he smells which is “a rich compound of whiskey, after-shave lotion, shoe polish, woolens, and the rankness of a mature male”(page 201). The last line especially gives us a sense that he is a very arrogant out right man who has a drinking problem which causes even more damage. And by the way he talks to the waiters “Just do as your told…Chop Chop” further acknowledges our assumptions on his character (page 201). Every time that they get kicked out you can feel Charlies reactions and really empathize with what he is going through, even though the author doesn’t give us anything on how Charlie is reacting to it. The whole story seems to only be about the dad and the spectacles that he makes which is probably what Charlie sees as well.
In conclusion Charlie makes a very hard decision by letting the readers know that it was the last time that he saw his father, which is also how he begins the story as well. He does this to make a statement that shows the reader how the meeting with his father really impacted him and his stance, by not seeing him again it makes it clear that Charlie doesn’t want anything to do with that man. Though it seemed from the beginning that Charlie had wanted a reunion, a good one it took a turn by the actions done by his own dads doing. He chose to no longer have a connection to his father but still we see the longing that Charlie has when he says “I have to go, Daddy” (page 203) This shows us that Charlie still reverts back to into being a child because that is his parent but, he also has the ability to decide on his own what characters make a man and which traits he wants for himself none of those being that of his father.
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