Ann Beattie writes her short story “The Lawn Party” as a male narrator. Because men tend to be less emotional than women are, this makes the narrator’s point of view more believable. Although this is a story that moves from one agonizing situation to another, the lack of human emotion leaves one with a somewhat empty feeling. One could infer that the author removed all sensitivity from the narrator in an attempt to make him appear aloof, indifferent, and even somewhat callous.
The narrator lost his arm in a car accident. When asked if he would like a plastic arm or claw, he rejected both. When asked what he would like, he calmly responded “air”. Later in the story, he complained that he has to sip beer because it would be annoying if he had to set the beer down to wipe his mouth. He also received a letter from the college where he worked, stating that they hoped all was well and that he would be back to work in the fall. His only thought was that it would be difficult to teach art with only one arm, but then dismissed the entire issue as if it was unimportant.
The narrator told of falling in love with his wife’s sister before they were married. He asked his fiancée to postpone the marriage so he could sort things out. She responded by drinking heavily and crying. For some reason he relented and married her as planned. His new wife would not see her sister again; however, he continued to see his wife’s sister throughout their marriage, further demonstrating his lack if sensitivity. Although he had a child with his wife, he does not express any emotion toward either of them.
It had been more than ten years since the affair began that led to the tragic car accident. He had been spending the day with his wife’s sister shopping. She was...