This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

A Small, Good Thing A Short Story By Raymound Carver

2137 words - 9 pages

Ingrained within the American identity is a restless spirit that is never content to be defined by the same terms for too long. Yet the things Americans value remain the same, evidenced by the titles they strive so hard to attain—husband, wife, mother, father. These titles represent who Americans are as much as what they are. They are the roles that give Americans purpose and meaning. The defining aspect of Raymond Carver's short story, “A Small, Good Thing,” is the fact that its characters are undeniably American. “A Small, Good Thing” was originally published in 1981 as “The Bath” in Carver's second major publication, What we Talk About When we Talk About Love, before reappearing two years later in Cathedral, longer and revised. The second version includes a new ending that lends more closure than its predecessor but completely changes the meaning of the story, painting the conflict in a new light, creating a tone that saturates the story like a colored filter over a lens; however, what the new ending offers most is deeper insight into the identity of the characters involved—who they are, what they hope for, what they're afraid of, and what has the power to heal them.
Like the characters in his stories, Carver was no stranger to sorrow. Born in 1938 and raised in the Northwest, Carver was a typical blue-collar American, working odd jobs to support a wife and two daughters, doing his best to cope with the frustrations and struggles of the working-class (“Raymond Carver”). He was reputed to be self-centered, an alcoholic with violent tendencies, and ambitious to the point of sacrificing his marriage and family for the fame he sought (Yardley). Dying at the age of fifty from cancer, he lived the harsh reality of the American Dream. Carver had a wealth of experience to draw from when creating his characters, and he wove what he saw as the American’s best and worst qualities into stories, making them unmistakable in black and white.
“A Small, Good Thing” begins the same way that “The Bath” did, on a Saturday afternoon. The reader is given an over-the-shoulder perspective of a mother picking out a birthday cake for her soon-to-be-eight-years-old son, Scotty, watching as she orders a space-themed cake from a polite, yet impersonal, baker. She gives the baker her name, Ann Weiss, and is told the cake will be ready Monday morning, just in time for the party. However, before she gets the chance to pick-up the cake, the unimaginable happens—the birthday boy is hit by a car. The car that hit him had at least waited to see if he would get up before driving away. In shock, the child manages to walk home and tell his mother what happened, all without shedding a tear, before losing consciousness. She calls Howard, her husband, the child's father, who is at work. He tells her to “remain calm, remain calm” (Carver 1037). He repeats the platitude as much for her benefit as for his own, perhaps because he knows that, ultimately, the only comfort one can hope...

Find Another Essay On A Small, Good Thing A Short Story by Raymound Carver

'A short story tells us only one thing and that intensely' How far do you agree with his assertion

912 words - 4 pages back to Pritchett's claim, '...the short story tells us only one thing, and that, intensely'. I have shown that some short stories do conform to this, 'A Very Short Story ' being one of them as its purpose is to show how the war both created and lost love. However his theory cannot be applied to all short stories as I have clearly shown that 'The Selfish Giant' conveys more than one message that is that things are not always what they seem and that by treating people in the way you expect to be treated can be rewarding.

A Good Man is Hard to Find Short Story Attributes - MATC English 202 - Essay

1192 words - 5 pages Good and Evil in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Characters are important to any story. Without good characters, the story is not as interesting. There are many characters to focus on within the short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor. In order to analyze characters, focusing on the Grandmother and the Misfit allows you to get to know them better and see that good and bad character traits can alternate between both the

Flannery O’Connor’s Short Story A Good Man is Hard to Find

1013 words - 4 pages Flannery O’Connor’s Short Story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Flannery O’Connor’s personal views on the justification of religion and the resulting world or corruption and depravity are apparent in her short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. She analyzes the basic plight of human existence and its conflict with religious conviction. The first two-thirds of the narrative set the stage for the grandmother, representing traditional Christian

"When Chains Begin to Break." This is my second short story which also gained me a 'Very high achievement.' This story includes a good twist

1399 words - 6 pages "On the count of tax evasion, I find the defendant not guilty as charged."The still courtroom exploded with noise. Chairs scraped back, papers shuffled, and voices filled the room. I remained sitting, relief flooding through me. This had seemed an impossible case, but my client and I had gotten through it by reminding ourselves that hope was not dead until the final verdict.Through the commotion, I could see a beaming Darren picking his way

Grotesque Tendencies: An Analysis of Flannery O'Connor's Misfit in the Short Story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find"

1025 words - 4 pages to go for a walk in the woods and that they are of no concern to him any more, and in some evil way they have no more worries of coming to harm from The Misfit.The savagery shown by The Misfit in O'Connor's short story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" speaks of the violent gothic nature of this tale. The Misfit's pronouncements of murderous intentions and his civility as he plays with his projected victims prior to killing them show his grotesque tendencies. O'Connor seems to have known a lot about violence in the grotesque form, and her storytelling was ahead of her time allowing her to put a story like this together to equal any of today's multifaceted and repugnant tales.

It's easier to run - a short story about a journalist who has cracked, and maybe a tribute to Oasis (who are nearly as good as The Beatles)

832 words - 3 pages to his seat.The music was probably part of his distraction but he loathed turning it off. It was his comfort in the small hours of the morning, and ever since he had moved from home he hadn't discarded the privilege of playing music at full volume. He had to do the column though, mundane as it was. Why do the newspapers always play it so safe?"They're running with the pack - and they're towing me along" he mused. Tom led a fairly good life; he

Short Story asessment, The Good Corn & Turned

632 words - 3 pages Discuss how cultural circumstances effect a character's reaction to certain situations.There is one major difference in The Good Corn and Turned and that is the reactions of thewives to their husbands actions. In reality what the two men did was the same but how thetwo women reacted was entirely different. Mrs. Mortimer forgave her husband and Mrs.Marroner up and left her husband. This difference in reactions is caused by the differentcultural

The essay is called "The Clues O'Connor Provides". It is about the use of foreshadowing in the short story of "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" by Flannery O'Connor

1004 words - 4 pages The Clues O'Connor ProvidesFlannery O'Connor uses the literary device of foreshadowing throughout the short story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find." Connor uses this device with a very subtle approach, which allows her to signal the outcome of the story, yet at the same time, does not give the ending of the story away completely. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is inundated with many instances of foreshadowing which point toward the conclusion. The use

Analysis of the short story "Good Man Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

975 words - 4 pages Ultimately in life each person goes through the process of the demise of innocence, because evil is omnipresent. Everyone has a shadow side to himself. Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown" displays a protagonist's archetypal journey to the discovery of evil in mankind. Hawthorne's use of the threshold motif depicts the archetypal struggle between good and evil and the inevitable loss of innocence. Set in the Puritan age

this is a Short Story i wrote for an english task i got an A so feel free to us it as you wish and good luck with your assignment

924 words - 4 pages died. I was extremely stress by this and refuse to talk to anyone but nanny because she was the only one that I could trust to tell me the truth. Sometimes I wonder what I have done to deserve, to lose my parents at such a young age. But I know that when they were alive the loved me dearly and that they will be there to help me through the good and the bad times. Maddison Brand 10D English

Quitting - A Good Thing?

1345 words - 5 pages Sue WaggonerProfessor KeeneEnglish 130227 October 2003Quitting - A Good Thing?While some who smoke may live to die of natural causes, generally that is not the case. Smoking has a profoundly negative effect on a person's social, health, mental, and economic life. "Cigarette smoking remains the primary cause of preventable death and morbidity in the United States" (Williams). While smoking may have a few benefits, the overall negative effect on

Similar Essays

"Where Have You Been, Where Are You Going" By Oates And "A Small, Good Thing" By Raymand Caver

1086 words - 4 pages Comparison & Contrast of Short FictionAlthough there are many common grounds by comparing the two typical stories "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Oates and "A Small, Good Thing" by Raymond Carver, but each writer has its own purposes and points through the essences of their story to convey its readers in order to achieve their goal. As a product of middle class American descendants, this made Oates and Carver in common as a

Essay On The Short Story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" By Flannery O'connor

806 words - 3 pages In a "Good Man Is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor, the contrast of good and evil is not as evident as it appears on the surface. The road that the family in the story travels symbolizes good up until the point the grandmother all but forces the family to make a detour onto a dirt road that leads to their demise. She is the unlikely antagonist in the story. A serial killer named, The Misfit, is the protagonist despite his homicidal actions

An Analysis On The Similarities And Differences In Raymond Carver's“A Small Good Thing” And “The Bath”

2771 words - 11 pages painful moment. The story reveals that the birthday party has been canceled as Scotty is hospitalized. In 'A Small Good Thing' we learn details about the father that are lend some insight into the Father's life, but are essentially inconsequential in their difference. Using little words or many, Carver lets the reader know we are dealing with a man reeling through reality, helpless and trying hard to keep himself together. He spends little time

"The Accident" A Good Short Story Essay With A Great Twist (Its Gotta Have A Twist)

825 words - 3 pages please", I answered. "Hello?" "Are you there?" She couldn't hear a thing I was saying. I assumed the mud must have been blocking the speaker so I hung up the phone. As I realized the seriousness of the situation I ran hastily back up the bank and up to the road for help. I ran onto the road looking for any passers by, but I couldn't see anyone. Then out of nowhere I saw a blinding light coming down the road, it was coming towards me really fast