The “Reunion” is the shortest yet most powerful reading by far. In my own opinion, the biggest thing we as humans waste is sweet, sweet time. It is taken way too much for granted, and it seems that we only appreciate it when we’ve realized we’ve run out of it. The people you take for granted today may turn out to be the only ones you need tomorrow. As spoken in the lyrics of the Maccabees, “let’s make time work for us”, “because time can mean so much” (Maccabees). The son, Charlie, tells his story about having an extra hour and a half between trains and wants to see his father.
After extending a written invitation to his father, his father’s secretary responded and confirmed the reunion. The fact that his secretary responded tells us that, after not seeing his son for three years, he wasn’t overly exhilarated about seeing him. We can assume that he didn’t have ‘time’ to personally respond to his estranged son. But nevertheless, he agreed to meet. Seeing his father coming through the crowd, Charlie “felt that he was my father, my flesh and blood, my future and my doom” (Cheever 124).
He immediately has a notion that his father will always be his father, but he didn’t want to end up like him and he would make sure of that. Even so, like most father-son relationships, Charlie was still proud enough of his father to want to be photographed so he could have “some record of our having been together” (Cheever 124). Cheever uses very revealing words that tells the reader things about the surroundings that day and reveals Charlie’s view of their reunion. The meaning of the word “father” is a male parent who can be relied upon; a man who serves or is thought of as a protector on matter how long you have been apart.
Charlie’s father, though seen as a character that does not care a lot about his child, does deep down love his son, in his very own way. There are many different style and approaches when it comes to parenting. The fact that someone shows love and affection differently than you does not necessarily mean that they love their children any less. Charlie’s father seems very nervous and may not know how to handle himself around him. The sentence where the father said “I’m sorry, sonny, I’m terribly sorry” (Cheever 125) tells us that the father after three years of not seeing his child, was really confused how their relationship at this point.
He isn’t sure whether or not these three years have changed a lot between them or if they can pick up where they left off, so to speak. By about the middle of the story Charlie begins to see the change in the way he remembers his dad. His view of his father is no longer of admiration, but just a memory he would rather delete. “We sat down, and my father hailed the waiter in a loud voice… if it isn’t too much to ask of you—if it wouldn’t be too much above and beyond the call of duty… ” (Cheever 124). The quote shows how the author begins to portray how ridiculous Charlie’s father really is, and Charlie definitely recognizes this.
At this point Charlie feels like “his boisterousness in the empty restaurant seemed out of place” (Cheever 124). Charlie’s father is a very negative, unhappy man and Charlie is getting embarrassed and tired of jumping from restaurant to restaurant. Instead of spending quality time with Charlie, their time was spent in and out of several restaurants due to his father’s absurd attitude. Maybe Charlie’s father acted this way to fill their time and to avoid having to have any real, serious conversation with his son.
As the story evolves Charlie’s dad gets worse: “Kind sir, will you be good enough to favor me with one of your God-damned, no-good, ten-cent afternoon papers? ” (Cheever 126). At this point, Charlie was close to ending their reunion. The ludicrous behavior the father took on was a building tool that was used cleverly by the author so that the last sentence of his story portrayed what his meaning was; “Good bye daddy, I said, and I went down the stair and got my train, and that was the last time I saw my father. ” (Cheever 126).
The last line was clearly used pathos to affect the feelings of the reader. So throughout the short story “Reunion” we see how John Cheever uses the insane behavior of the father to use pathos to add sentiment to the short story. Cheever’s message portrays the misuse of time; always be an example for your child, love on them, you never know how long you have them. Raising children today is no longer just the woman’s work. In the past, making money was the dedicated point of men’s lives. Fathers were too busy for their children and in some cases many boys grew up without fathers.
Boys relied on their older brothers, uncles, cousins, and maybe even grandfathers to model masculinity and provide an example for them. Nothing came between a man and his job. Companies would demand utmost loyalty from employees by making them a part of the work family and cut them further away from the family of home. Men on the daddy track were severely penalized, much as women on the mommy track are now. The children of this generation grow up with the idea that the purpose of a father’s life is to work and provide, and that should be all that is expected from him.
In Cheever’s story “Reunion”, this idea is clearly portrayed. Although Charlie’s father agrees to meet with him, he has no idea how to handle himself around him due to the time that he allowed to get between him and his son. The message taken from this story is to not take time with your children and loved ones for granted. All too often young boys are left to be raised with no father figure in their lives. It’s not until we lose someone and they are no longer there for us that we realize what role they played in our lives.
The author did an excellent job of sending this very message in a way that we can all relate to. The most important way that dads can help their boys understand that they matter is by making them a priority over the myriad demands that life throws at us. With many things competing for a dad’s attention, it’s easy for a child to think that he doesn’t matter. It is critical that dads make it clear to their sons and daughters that they are a priority, that our most important investment is in them and that all the other “stuff” gets only the leftovers.