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Charcter Analysis of the short Story The Enormous Radio - Essay Example

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Jim Wescott’s average income family. His wife, Irene Wescott is depicted as a homely character who takes care of the household, looks after their two children, goes…
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Charcter Analysis of the short Story The Enormous Radio
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John Cheever’s short story “The Enormous Radio” explores the deceptively simple and peaceful life of Mr. Jim Wescott’s average income family. His wife, Irene Wescott is depicted as a homely character who takes care of the household, looks after their two children, goes on luncheon dates and listens to the radio in her free time. What distinguished the couple from their friends, classmates and neighbors was that they had a serious interest in music. The radio they had was a significant possession for this reason. Once this old radio was damaged, Jim bought Irene a new radio, which was a bit too big and unaesthetic for their living room. Moreover, the new radio turned out to be too sensitive to electronic devices at first, and when it was repaired, it started to transmit the conversations of other people in the apartment. Irene picked up the habit of listening to these conversations, and got very upset by the evening. Jim repairs it again and gets the radio back to working condition.
Irene appears to be a contented housewife, enjoying her day to day chores and the free time in which she listens to the radio. But the peaceful atmosphere gives way to subtle nuances of conflict, as she keeps listening to the conversations of other people. She appears shocked by the evening when Jim arrives. She asks him to go up to 16-C where Mr. Osborn is beating his wife. When Jim tries to chide her, she tells him how terrible the lives of the people in their apartment had. Almost all of them were quarrelling over money matters and leading hypocritical lives. She tries to get the reassurance from Jim that their life had not been like that. She asks him: “… we have always been good and decent and loving to one another, haven’t we….Our lives aren’t sordid, are they, darling? Are they?” This reveals the inner conflicts Irene had regarding her family life. She is not totally unaware of the scars that remain after hypocritical phases of life, but she tries to overcome that with the good aspects of her life. It is the revelation that all the families around her are going through some sort of self-deception and misery which upsets her. She tries to contrast the relative peace and order in her family and hope against hope that her family life would not end up being a show off.
On the day the radio is repaired at last, a bizarre argument is picked up by Jim, which Irene tries to neglect. But in his fury, he accuses Irene of lying to him about paying the clothing bills. He makes his resentment regarding the extra expenses like the radio and fancy items he buys for Irene. Irene tries to avoid an argument and is apprehensive that the radio will transmit their arguments to others. The reason for her nervousness after listening to other people’s conversations can be related to this apprehension. After all, her life had not been much different from the lives of other people in the apartment. He husband keeps shouting at her and accuses her of being hypocritical. She had cheated many people, including her mother and sister. She had been mean to others, and had no qualms about having an abortion once. Irene tries to avert her attention to the cold voices from the radio. It is revealed that her discomfort at knowing the secrets of other people in the apartment emerged from her fear of losing the privacy in her life. She has no reason to feel proud of her family life than the others.
Irene plays the pivotal role in the short story that reveals the intricate crevices of human mind, and the conflicts that arise from the union of two dissimilar people for the sake of family life. Though her motives seem naïve at first, her behavioral patterns are heavily influenced by the undercurrents of conflict and dissatisfaction in her own family life. Read More
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