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

2771 words - 11 pages

In Raymond Carver's 'The Bath' and rewritten version of the story entitled 'A Small, Good Thing', the author tells the same tale in different ways, and to different ends, creating variegated experiences for the reader. Both stories have the same central plot and a majority of details remain the same, but the effects that the stories have upon the reader is significantly different. The greatest character difference is found in the role of the Baker, and his interaction with the other characters. The sparse details, language and sentence structure of 'The Bath' provide a sharp contrast emotionally and artistically to 'A Small Good Thing'. In many ways, 'The Bath' proves to have a more emotional impact because of all that it doesn't say; it's sparse, minimalist storytelling gives the impression of numbed shock and muted reactions. The descriptive storytelling of 'A Small Good Thing' goes deeper into the development of the characters and although it tells more story, it ends on a note of hopefulness, instead of fear or desperation. Each story has it's own magic that weave it's a powerful. When compared to each other the true masterpiece of each story is best revealed.
Both stories open with the same happy task; a mother is choosing a birthday cake for her son, Scotty. In 'The Bath' we are given details of appearance of the cake and a detailed description of the baker, but no real insight into the inner thoughts of the characters. In 'A Small Good Thing' we are treated to the mother's thoughts on the baker and her reflection on what commonalities they may have. She finds herself disliking the baker, “He made her feel uncomfortable, and she didn't like that...She gave up trying to make friends with him” (Carver ) In each version however, the reader is given an impression of an oddness about the baker, whether it is the subtleties in 'Bath' “he wore a curious apron...kept wiping his he listened to the woman, his wet eyes examining her lips” (Caver 920) or the view into the woman's impression of the baker, the reader is left with an impression of the baker as an unpleasant fellow.
The story quickly becomes dramatic. The morning of his birthday, Scotty is hit by a car on the way to school. The differences in these paragraphs are subtle, but worth examination. In both cases, Scotty is walking to school with his friend, eating chips, trying to determine what his pal is getting him for his birthday: an innocent moment of childhood. This moment is abruptly shattered by Scotty being hit by a car. Scotty's reaction to the accident remains the same. The stories differ here in there reactions of the other two people at the accident scene, the driver and Scotty's companion. In 'The Bath' the young friend of Scotty does not seem to fully understand what happened. He does not seem to be in shock like Scotty, just too young to understand his friend is hurt, “The other boy stood holding potato chips. He was wondering if he should finish the...

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