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1984 Time in 's The ouH sebreaker of Shady Hill Charles M. Elliott Eastern Illinois University This research is a product of the graduate program in English at Eastern Illinois University. Find out more about the program.

Recommended Citation Elliott, Charles M., "Time in John Cheever's The ousH ebreaker of Shady Hill" (1984). Masters Theses. 2825. https://thekeep.eiu.edu/theses/2825

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m Time in John Cheever's

The Housebreaker of Shady Hill (TITLE)


Charles M. Elliott






1984 YEAR



l�-17-!1 DATE �-11-'&1 DATE



The problem of time is a central concern in John

Cheever's short story collection .The Housebreaker of Shady

Hill. The characters in these stories--upper-middle class

suburbanites--live in a sometimes chaotic and disconnected world in which they find it difficult to attain sonesense of continuity in their relationships with time. In trying to come to grips with their time and space, many of Cheever's

characters express an immoderate devotion to their past,

present, or future and neglect to see the bits and pieces

of their experien�es as interrelated. The characters who are happy and whole in these stories, however, feel the

tension between the outer world ( and its clock time ) and their inner sense of duration, meet the conflict head-on,

and attain a sense of balance which will allow to

grow psychologically. In this thesis I explore how the

protagonist in each of these stories either thrives or

suffers--with himself and within the town of Shady Hill-­

as a result of his understanding of his temporality.

To provide a critical framework for this study I

initially discuss ( in Part I) some of the philosophical

and literary approaches toward the problem of time, paying

particularly close attention to the work of Henri Bergson.

Bergson's notion of pure duration--emphasizing the pervasive­

ness of memory on a human consciousness that is forever

"becoming" and changing--was highly influential in the

development of a subjective approach toward time. Bergson's philosophy had a great impact upon the works of Proust,

Joyce and Faulkner, and has a great deal of relevance to a discussion of Cheever's work.

After this introductory section, my work is divided into three parts devoted to an analysis of Cheever's stories themselves, keeping close in mind the philosophical approach of Bergson. In Part II I discuss how the town of

Shady Hill ( where each of the stories is set ) acts as a "character" whose steadfast linearity ( adherence to clock time ) seemsto have a great effect on the lives of the protagonists. In Part III I examine in each story the conflict which exists between the protagonists ( and their notions of inner time ) and Shady Hill. Finally, I comment on how Cheever's subj ective approach to time has had an influence on his storytelling technique. PART I

The problem of time is a central concern in many of the short stories of John Cheever. Very few of the char�cters

in his stories--expatriates in Rome, rural New Englanders,

New Yorkers, Westchester County suburbanites--seem to be spared at least a tenuous confrontation with their temporality.

a These characters live and love in sometim es unfathomable

existence, in a world that seems chaotic and disconnected and in which their past is. strangely unassimilable with their

present and their prospects for the fut ure. The character

who is aware and strong enough to integrate some sense of

continuity in his relati onship with time is give the just psychic rewards of order and wholeness and happiness. But

more often Cheever's stories ar e str ewn with charact ers wh o

have stopped growing because of their fragmented sense of

self. In trying to come to grips with and make sense of the ir

time and space, these failures express an immoderate devotion

to their past, present, or future and neg lect to see the

bits and pieces of th eir experiences as int errelated.

However, Cheever's plots are not vehicles for an eso-

teric discourse "about" time, nor should the y be, as J.B. '

Priestly has rightly pointed out. "Time is a concept,"

writes Pr iestly , "a cert ain cond ition of experience, a mode

of perception; • • • a novel or a play cannot really be about

Time but only about the people and the things that appear in

1 2

1 Time. " In fact , it is a mark of Cheever's craftsmanship that the dilemmas of his "pe ople and things in Time" are

presented so gra cefully and subtly •. Although Cheever may attend to the problem of time quietly , the problem is a no less e s s ential strand in the tight fabric of his fiction .

An understanding of Cheever's time consciousness seems a necessary comp onent in any thorough discussion of his work.

It has not been in Cheever's fiction alone that the subject of time has been addressed; inde ed it ha s be en of paramount importance to much of western literature in the twentieth century . Priestly claims that "'modern literature ,"' in general, begins with Baudelaire and "his fear and hatred 2 of chronological time ." Nhether or not it is accurate to citeBaudelaire as the father of modern lit erature--or a moderni st approach or attitude towa rd time--is perhaps a moot point in thi s discussion; but it seems helpful to J recognize here that linear time i s seen as a universal 4 anathema by most of the "Time-haunted" writers since the industrial age . vii th a ris e in technological advancement during the nin eteenth century came the necessary economic pressure for man to become dependent upon "clock time" in hi s daily social affairs and for his livelihood. The philo- sophi cal and literary approaches to time.have , since this rising social importance of clock time , been focused on th e validity or the deleteriousness of clock time as a repres:nt- ation of man's consci ousness of his duration. The concerns of writers (and their fictional characters--whether or not 3 they articulate their temporal crises in clear terms) seem to be theses just what effect has linearity had upon mod ern man's spiritual and psychological well-being, and to what extent has the clock come to define his existence?

The so-cal led "psychological novel" (or "novel of subjectivity") of the twentieth century, according to Leon

Edel, has at its very center this relationship of mechanical 5 time to the psyche. The concer� of the "psychological novel­ ist" is "psychological time, " which has "Time-measure [s] different within each individual" since the "consciousness 6 •••do es not measure time by mechanical means." The psychological novelist, then, ponders the true nature of 7 "inner time which takes no stock of clock time." Many

critics (among th em Edel, Margaret Church, and Joseph Frank)

have recognized this preoccupation with inner time in the

innovative works of James Joyce and Marcel Proust, as well

as Americans and Thomas Wolfe. And while

these writers reach different conclusions about time and use

a variety of unconventional techniques (stream of consciousness

writing, for instance) in order to represent the inner

mach inations of man 's true consciousness, their icono-

elastic approach to the confines of linearity--in modern life

a s well as in literary technique--has had an enormous

influence upori the works of their successors . It is in this

tradition of inquiry into the chaotic and disconnected

psychological existence of man that the work of Cheever falls.

The thrust of much of Cheever' s work, as well as that of his 4

Time-haunted predecessors, depends upon his character's

understandings of the relationship between psychological

time and mechanical time, the inner world and the outer

world .

While the mood of Cheever' s work is surely influenced

by a philosophical climate forwarded by other " time writers,"

the groundwork for the study of human time in this century was made possi ble largely by the work of Henri Bergson.

Bergson's thought was, as Georges Poulet writes in 8 Studies in Human Time , "transitiona1 .11 Bergson re-

emphasized the pervasiveness of memory in a "becoming,"

constantly changing human consciousness that was the s taple

of the Romantic conception of time, while at the same time

snuffing out the fin de si�cle determini stic vision of man's

duration (or duration as a predetermined "diagram of time ," 9 as a "genesis of death" ). Bergson's influence on the contemporary writer was two-fold, according to Margaret

Churchs it allowed the writer to see time "in terms of man' s inmost exi stence" (as opposed to clock time ) and "to show

that the inner time of man is no t a kind of inferior adjunct 10 to a Christian, Hindu or Buddhist eternity.11 Edel points

out that at the time the "psychological novel" was first

being wri tten , the influence of Freud , the v ery father of

psychoanalytic thought, "was only beginning to be felt";

Bergson and, to a certain extent, William James, says Edel,

are the "creators of the intellectual atmosphere in which the 11 novels of subjectivity came into being.11 5

At the very heart of Bergson's philosophy is his notion of "pure duration." It is Bergson's contention that the different states of consciousness permeate one another-- the past melting into the present--to form a continuous, whole, and interpenetrating sense of time. To divide or separate states of con sciousness requires the spatiali- zation of time , a practice which i s very mu ch at odds with pure duration. Clock time, therefore, is "something 12 different than inner duration in Bergson ' s scheme of things.

"Certainly pure consciousness does not pe rceive time as a sum of units of durdtion1 left to itself it has no means and J even no rea son to mea sure time ••• • .. 1 The self is constantly in a state of change, in the process of "becoming , .. and each

true act and thought (those which are based upon a conscious­ ne ss unfolding in time and not a reflection of habit) is a

creative, free decision based· upon a whole self.

The self cannot be in pure duration if it separates the

states of consciou sness. This tendency for the self to

become fragmented , says Bergson, is largely a response to

fulfilling "the requi rements of social life in general and

. language 1n. part1c. u 1 ar. "14 Langu age, 1n other worrls , "cannot get hold of pure duration wi thout arresting its motility or fit it into its common-place forms without 15 making it into public property .0 The confines of language

(which render exp erience finite and detached from the rest

of eonsciousness) and society (which spatializes time for

the sake of economic convenience) cause us to live with "the

shadow of the self, " in a torpid haze which obscures our 6 realization of true duration, which is interpenetrating and continuous. The contemporary dilemma with time is summarized by Bergson thusly1

The greater part of the time we live outside

ourselves, hardly perceiving anything of ourselves

but our own ghost, a colorless shadow which pure

duration projects into homogeneous space. Hence

our life unfold3in space rather than in time; we

live for the external world rather than for our-

s elves; we speak rather than think; we "are acted"

ra ther than act ourselves. To act freely is to

recover possession of oneself, and to get back into 16 pure duration.

It should not be assumed that the novels of Joyce and

Proust incorporated Bergs on's philosophy exactly even though both novelists were very familiar with Bergson's wor k. A writer draws from a certain philosophy as it suits his arti. stic . needs. 17 Furthermore, there is no evidence--at least none that has appeared in the critical l.it:erature-- that John Cheever was influ enced by or even read Bergson (or

Proust or Joy ce, for that matter) . Still, B e rg son's attention

to the importance of a personal, psychological sense of time

from which the self can be understood and lived seems quite

similar to most of Cheever's temporal conc erns.

The moments of revelation for Cheever's characters

occur when they discover that the true rl'yt h�s of their lives

are dictated not from without but from within; wh en they 7 realiz e that the self is understood intuitively , from "far below the mechanism of the rational mind which is forever falsifying our experi ence by its clear and intelligible .. 8 1 og1c. . 1 I will, therefore, keep the philosophy of Bergson

( a s well as the work of the Romantics who preceded him) close in mind as I make an inquiry into "Cheever Time," and how that time has influenced Cheever's storytelling style.

In nearly all of Cheever's �iction is found a central character ( or characters ) living and struggling within a community; the character necessarily must interact with others and conform to the written or l.Ulwritten rules of the collective. And , as has already been mentioned , it i s in the post- industrial aga community that the character's self is most susceptible to a glossing over with linearity.

Attaining a sense of balance between what is necessary in society and what is essential to the well-being of psychic health, then, becomes a chief conflict . Bergson's notion of the "shadow self," whi ch is but the outer cru st of human exi stence , is what many of Cheever's chara cters live iA and what some of them struggle to strip away.

Che ever's exploration of the "shadow self"--what happens when a character out of his shadow ( if even momentarily } , or to what extremes the.light of selfhood is obscured in his community--is most poignantly and deftly executed in his collection The Housebreaker of Shady Hill and Other

Stories. This volume contains the often-anthologized "The

Country Husband , " "The Five-Forty-Eight , " "The Housebreaker 8

of Shady Hill ," and "0 Youth and Beauty ," and has been praised by many critics, one of whom claims that thi s is

Cheever' s"most uniformly excell ent collection of short 19 f stories ... All o the stories in this volume are set in the mythical upper-middle class suburb of Shady Hill ( presumably in Westchester County , north of New York City) . The ma jor players in one tale will lurk in the background as minor

characters in another. The event s in each story ostensibly

revolve around the diversions , insti-Utions, and worries

of suburban life--cocktails and cookouts ; commuter trains and country clubs ; marital infidelities and financial


Beneath the calm veneer of Shady Hill , however, lies

a much larger concern. These are the stories of men and

women who feel a vague unea siness over the wa;..· that they

live . The lack of continuity in their lives--their

separation from the past or inability to come back to the present from th e pas t--leaves them with a bitterness � a

sadness and a sense that life has cheated them in-some way,

that the best days have pass ed them by , that they can make

no sense of their live s . These characters are in a rut ,

to be sure , but it is no t their money problems or marriage

breakdowns that leave them uneasy (though both problEll'E are

precipitating events leading the characters to an awareness

of themselves) . The moment of crisis in The Housebreaker

stories comes when characters begin to see their fragmentation

and their "shadows." How these chara cters respond when they 9 see the dispa rity between their temporality , their inner sense of duration , and that of their lives within the com­ munity is what Cheever ultimately wishes to expose.

This attention to time in each of The Housebreaker stories i s in some ways the unifying thread for the collecti on.

In fact, it has been suggested by one cri tic that the \Olum e should "qualify" as a novel , while another, in supporting that position, contends that one could consider the town of

Shady Hill as a character and the' thread of continui ty 20 between the separate stories. Though it is not the intention of this essay to argue for or against the vo lume's merit as novel, it is interesting to note the importance of

Shady Hill in Cheever's pres entation of time. As will be shown , Shady Hill , which is in a sense an omnipotent char­ acter throughout the collection, is a steadfa st embodiment of the linearity which vexes Cheever's protagonists' struggles to step into "pure duration." Havever, be fore examining those struggles and the effect of Cheever' s time consciousne ss on his storytelling style, I will first consider this land o f the shadow self , called , appropriately, Shady Hill. 10


The commuter train seems like the most stri king image in establishing Shady Hill as a characterization of linear timeo Buzzing in and out of town , the commuter train is a quiet yet ever-present reminder of the passing of clock time.

Cheever often sets a scene not by telling the specific time of day, but by referring to the train ( which is named for a time--an " 8105" or "5a 48") which has just come and gone .

The reader sees this device used in "0 Youth and Beauty"1

Then it is a summer night •••The passengers on

the eight-fifteen see Shady Hill •••The noise of

the train i s muffled in the heavy foilage, and

the long car windows look like a string of lighted 2 1 aquarium tanks before they flicker out of sight.

And in "The Country Husband" a "The seven-fourteen has come and gone , and here and there dinner is finished and the dishes

are in the dishwa shing machine'' (p. 409). In both examples the reader sees a physical representation of clock time

rushing awayo The commut er train in The Housebreaker stories acts something like a "Big Ben" chiming the hour in

some small town square.

The protagonists in each story--Johnny Hake to Fr�ncis Weed to Blake--hop on that train every morning to go to 1 1

New York City where they work. The protagoni st s ' working I hours then are given regimented time bo undaries which are defined by train d eparture times. For Blake, the strictly linear villain of "The Five-Forty-Eight," this arrangement

is fine ; the commuter train ' s r egular ity represents comfort and safety ( p. 286). Hi s brush with death in the train itself and by the railroad tracks, then. is doubly horrifying for him and for the reader who come to equate the train with unerring routine. For the most part, however, the commuter rides are predictable and sedate. In "The Country Husband,"

Francis Weed, commuting home, finds it d ifficult to relate his near-miss with death to Trace Bearden--"p:::i.rticularly in the atmos pher e of a commuting trai n" ( p. 386) . It is a child , Amy Lawton in "The Sorrows of Gin"--who�time sense has not been usurped by the rhyttnnof the suburban world-- who can r ecogni ze that the "car her father traveled on seemed to have the gloss and monotony of the r est of his life" (p. 238).

Cheever draws our attention to the fact that the com- muter train ha s become more i mportant and more perv-�sive than that of the old train, which seems to represent a romantic, less regimented past. Amy Lawton, too young to remember the grand old days of the railroad, gathers this information from TVs

The railroad station in Shady Hill res embled the

railroad station in old movies she had seen on television, where detectives and spies, bluebeards

and their trusting victims were met to be driven 1 2

off to remote country estates. Amy liked the

sta ti on , parti cularly toward dark. ( p. 2 J8)

And it is a train coming from "the dark" (a night express

from Albany ) that brings Franci s Weed the wonderful sight

of a nude woman in a t rain car window . "Venus," however,

passes "like an appariti on through Shady Hill" (p. 395 ) ;

the mystery and romance of the night trains have been

sanitized by the regularity of the commuter train, which

the reader sees most often.

The rhythms of the social life in Shady Hill, in

general, are nearly as predictable and s teady as the commuter

train. A commuter goes from the stat ion to home where it 's

"tim e for a drink , time for love , time for supper " (p. 2 92).

, After the children have been put to bed, the adults spend

evening after eYening going to parties or attending civic

a ctivities and club meetings. Shady Hillites tend to huddle

together in their free time simply because they fear being

alone . They constantly project themselves outward�-living for the'�xternal world" as Bergson would say-- so that they

won't be separated from the rhythms of the community.

Julia Weed in " The Country Husband" is perhaps more outgoing

than some others , but her reasons for clinging desperately

to the party circuit seem typical am ong her peersa

• • .her love of part i e s sprang from a most

natural dread of chaos and loneliness. She went

through the morning mail with real anxiety ,

looking for invitations , and she usua l ly found 1 J

some , but she was insatiable , and if she had gone

out seven nights a week, it would not have cured

her of a ref lective look • • • for she v.ould always

suppose that there was a more brilliant party somwh ere else. ( p. J90)

Similarly , while her husband is away , Marcie Flint in"The

mme Trouble of Marcie Flint" i rses herself in community

affairs . She joins a madrigal grnup , a political workshop , and the Village Council to keep in touch with the community from whi ch she has had to withdraw in some ways during her

s e husband:.'s ab.sence. Cheever wryly notesa "Regard this we t woman, then, singing 'Hodie Chri stus Est,' studying Karl Marx ,

on a and sitting hard chair at meetings of the Village Counc il" ( p. J44). Quiet reflection i s not among the acceptable pastimes in Shady Hill . To be alone is to be left in the

e n i ; to pr s ence of o e ' s own m nd be left with one's own mind is to be conscious of one's own duration ( at lea s t a ccording to Bergson , and Cheever bears this out , too). The objec tive world of Shady Hill cannot tolerate such independence; thus th e social is always more important than the personal there . What Shady Hill res idents think are releases from the routine of work and commuter trains become old hat after a while. One party is just about the same as the next in

a Shady Hill , for example. Even the strange hurdle ritu l

e of Cash Bentley in "0 Youth and Beauty" is an e xp cted end to a party full of predictable types behaving in predi ctable ways . The first s entence of "O Youth and Beauty" give s the 14 reader a pretty good summary of what he might expect to see at just about every party.

At the tag end of nearly every long, large

Saturday-night party in the suburb of Shady Hill,

when almost everybody who was going to play golf

or tennis in the morning had gone home hours ago

and the ten or twelve people rema ining seemed

powerless to bring the evening to an end although

the gin and whiskey wer.e running lovr , and here and

there a woman who was sitt ing out her husband

would have begun to drink milk; when everybody

had lost track of time • • • when the bellicose

drunk, the crapshooter, the pianist, and the

woman fa ced with the expiration of her hopes had

all expressed themselves; when every proposal--

to gu to the Farquarsons' for breakfast, to go

swimming , to go and wake up the Townsends, to go

here �nd go there--died as soon as it was made ,

then Trace Bearden would begin to chide Cash

Bentley about his age and thinning hair. (p. 249 )

Each person plays his own little role, and the situation gets repeated over and over again . There is no joy or spontaneity in their celebrations . Their parties come and go on a Saturday night as regularly and as incident�less as the commuter trains that zip through town. "Those suburban

Sunday nights, tho se Sunday-night blues" ( p. 2 58 ) are the natural feelings of a despairing community that doesn't

quite understand tha t its linearity and its emphasis on the 1 5

outward will ne ver give them happiness. Their "free time"

is not really free because, as Be rgson would say, they are

living for the external world, not for themselves.

The only characters who are afforded any dpcntaneity

in their daily affairs are the children and dogs. Amy

Lawton can decide to run away from "home sweet hom e " to escape the adult world of Shady Hill and can call her public

school a "factory" ( p. 2 J5) . Evep Jupiter, the mischievo us dog in "The Country Husband ," is''an anomoly"--"hi s high

spirits were out of place in Shady Hill." Gertrude , the

village "stray" in "The country Husband," can drift from

house to house at will. It is said of hers "She never went

home of her own choice. When the time to go arrived , she

wa s indiffe rent to its signs" ( p. J98 ). The cry of "Go

home , Gertrude ," by many Shady Hill re sidents may nearly be seen as a banishment of spontaneity. There is a certain

time for everything in Shady Hill; p eople simply do not

step out of line ve ry often. If s omeone does break the rules

of order, the perpetrator is either swiftly ostracized or,

more likely , the act is quickly forgo tten. Francis Weed' s

rudeness toward old Mrs. Wrightson, for instance , results in his banishment from a party. Will Pym's shoving of Henry

Bulstrode on the train pla tform , on the other hand , will probably be forgotten as soon as the commuters hustle out

of their trains and take off for New York.

Memories which threaten to corrode the harmonious

linearity of Shady Hill are more likely to ge re pressed. 1 6

The trek forward into the future carri es with it no burdens of the past. Forgetting what is unpleasant , shielding oneself from the painful truths, is a ma jor part of Shady Hill Time.

For the village, duration is like a "chaplet of instants• 22 dis connected from one another. When Francis Weed notices that the Farquarsons' French maid is the woman he saw chastised as a Nazi collaborator during the war , he realizes that he can make no mention of her connection to a past which would upset the linear serenity of Shady Hill. Cheever summari zes Francis 's decision this ways

The people in the Farquarsons ' living room seemed

united in the tacit claim that there had been no

past, no war--that there was no danger mr trouble

in the world. In the recorded history of human

arrangement s, this extraordinary meeting would have

fallen into place , but the atmosphere of Shady

Hill made the memory unseemly and impolite. ( p. 392)

The Shady Hill Village Council 's redecoration of an old mansion for use as their Civic Center seems also an effort

to conceal the past.

The board room had been the parlor. Easter eggs

had been hidden there , children had pinned paper

tails on paper donkeys, fires had burned on the

hearth, and a Christmas tree had stood in the

corner, but once the house had become the property

o f the vi llage , a conscientious effort seems to

have been made to exorcise these gentle ghosts. (P.J+5) 17

The fireplace is bri cked u� and the room is painted a "depressing shade of green" ( p. J45 ) . The past of the place has been cov ered up. Shady Hillites are fragmented because of their separation from the past and also because of their alienation from the res t of the world. The havoc that takes place outside Shady Hill is shielded from the residents-­ and certainly from the children. Louise Bentley in "0 Youth and Beauty" spends her time "cutting out of the current copy of Life those scenes of mayhem, disa ster, and vi olent death that she felt might corrupt the children" ( p. 258). The town of Shady Hill is certainly an island in space

( in that the village seems to exist ind ependently , in a geographic va cuum tied to another place only by train) , and is, as has been shown, simi larly disconnected in its sense

of time ( in being totally separated from its past ) . This monster linear 'character' seems to have little potential for

a discovering an interpenetr ting sense of tirr.B . It is a

character nearly stuck on the moment with little hope for

any type of dynamic growing ( for "becoming" as Bergson wculd

say ) . The village seems to want an e verlasti ng present. Shady Hill , therefore , is mostly wary of what lies

ahead in the future. The Shady Hill Council is adamantly opposed to building a library , because it "might make Shady

Hill attrG:J.ctive to development" ( p. 345). It is mostly "new.. comers" who want the library anyway; the established residents

want no part in quick change. The static quality of Shady

Hill is precisely what Clayton Thomas elucidates in his 18 soliloquy in "The Country Husband":

I've thought about it a lot, and what seems to me

to be wrong with Shady Hill is th&t it doesn't have any future . So much energy is spent in

perpetuating the place--in keeping out undesirables,

and so.forth--that the only idea of the future

anyone has is just more and more commuting trains

and more parties. I don't think that 's healthy.

I think people ought to be able to dream big

dreams about the future . I think people ought to be able to dream great dreams.

The reader might easily attri bute Clayton' s harshness to his

immaturity ( he is only·twenty and he certainly appears like a college kid spouting off facts at Thanksgiving break) , but

given what we know about the town already, Clayton's a ssertion

that Shady Hill is futureless seems accurate.

The place in which Cheever's characters come to see their

own sense of inner time is one which encourages the status

quo and regularity and any activities which are not threatening

to the village ' s delicate and precious pres ent. And Cheever' s

protagoni s1Bare--wiJlingly or unwi llingly--full participants

in this routine . The reader can see the difficulties ahead

for them. They are living in what Marsha ll McLuhan referred

to as "the mechanical time-kept eity," which "looks like an 2 3 aggregation of somnambuli�ts and zombies.11 Indeed the

Johnny Hakes and Francis V'eeds of Shady Hill are ostensibly

leading the lives of habit; and "habit ," as Joseph Frank 19 noted in his analysis of Bergson, "is a uni versal sopori fic,

which ordinarily conceals the passage of time from those who have gone their accustomed ways."24

In a 1977 interview , John Cheever said that his suburbs

Shady Hill and Bullet Park were "metaphors for confinement."

He added that "escape" was not the means toward "eliminating"

confinement. In the midst of the constriction it is

necessary to "expres s one's conviction of the boundlessness 25 of possibility . " His Shady Hill stories should not be

seen as overt so6ial .. criticism, but as an exploration into

the strengths and frailties of the human spirit. It is

toward Cheever's characters ' dabbling into .. the boundlessness

of possibility"--in acting fre ely according to the dictates

of an interpenetrating , whole personality--that I will next

turn. 20


In each of the eight stories in The Housebreaker collec­ tion a ma jor character ( or characters ) in some way is put in a position in whi ch his normal and accepted sense of time is

challenged . The situations vary widely from story to story, but in each the prota goni st is forced to either re-examine or defend the time-sense through which he could previously comprehend himself and his intera ctions with his fellow man and his environment. The "confinement" of Shady Hill certain- ly enters into the fray , but it should not be assumed that

The Housebreaker stories show a clear cut battle, pitting a

few Shady Hillites against the tyranny of mechanical duration . The protagoni sts in this volume are neither thoroughly doctrinaire rebels against nor somnambulistic sla ves of linear Big Brother ShadJ Hill. Rather than present a

simplistic vis ion of the world, Cheever shows us a multi- plicity of human and mechani cal rhythms at play. A s Samuel Coale notes, Cheever "reveals the psychological complexi ties e\ 26 of a fragmented world �mphasis min o " J

Some of Che ever ' s characters suffer confusion over their

challenges, but, as Frederick Bracher rightly points out ,

"only those who fe el the ir insecurities can ever burst j oy 's

grape ."27 Only those who come to a point of persona l cri si s 21 where they notice--perhaps for the first time--that their own inner sense of time is valuable and has a s much va lidity as mechanical time can ever hope to integrate a happy sense of continuity in their lives . As has been shown, most residents of Shady Hill readily submit themselves to a large extent to the steadiness of linearity . When they feel the ebb and flow of an interpenetrating consciousness welling up within them they sometimes retreat even further into the community, which protects them from having to confront and examine the ir own �elves. Joy is the reward for the ones who feel the tension between the inner and outer worlds and face the conflict head-on with a s many of the resources of their personalities as they can muster.

It would be erroneous to categorize Cheever's protagon­ ists in The Housebreaker stories as either winners or losers in what has been, since the age of clocks , an eterna l skirmish between human and mechanical time. Nevertheiess,

Cheever does present his readers with a selecti on of char2cters whose abilities to unders tand the conflicts' importance and relevance to their lives greatly vary. A t the lower end of a scale measuring these abilities, the reader might find

Blake of "The Five-Forty-Eight ," a character whose adherence to Shady Hill time is so adamant that he sometime s appears

less than human. At the other end the readerimight find

the Crutchman family's triumph in "The Worm in the Apple" as an exemplar in this volume , describing the best deve loped

sense of continuity and balance between the inner and outer 22

worlds . However, most of the protagonists ' time conscious­

nesses are less than clearly defined, and their crises of

temporal insecurity seem to reach only a tentative closure

at the story's end. In the following pages I will examine those characters who, as Bracher said , "fe el their insecur­

ities" and react in ways in which either their selves are

more fully realized or subverted in some way. I will begin

with a look,_at two protagonists--Johnny Hake in "The House­

breaker of Shady Hill" and Charlie Flint in "The Trouble of

Marcie Flint"--and afterwards see how they seem to deliver themselves in the direction of the ideal, the Crutchmans.

Johnny Hake's initial insecurity in "The Hous ebreaker

of Shady Hill" is a financial one . He is fired from his

· high paying corporate position and soon finds himself nearly

broke. When he realizes that his checks will start bouncing ,

he walks into a neighbor' s house late at night and steals a

wallet with nine-hundred dollars in it. For most of the

story he wand ers about fee ling guilty for the theft and

suddenly starts to see only corruption and dishonesty in

every person. His anxiety very nearly leads to a breakup

with his wife Christina . He is foiled in another housebreaking

attempt , and before he can try again he miraculously sees

his wrong and stops. The very next day Hake gets his job

back and an advance on his sala ry , and he puts nine-hundred

dollars on the kitchen table of the neighbor from whom he


Whi le on the surface this might seem like a superficial 23 moral fable about right and wrong , it is really a substan­

a tial examination on how a man tries to integrate sens e of continuity in his life. Hake's dire financial situation and his theft solution are unquestionably barriers to Hake ' s ability to function as a citi zen of Shady Hill, but this surface trouble causes him to look inward at a more deeply rooted uneasiness--at his fragmented sense of self. Johnny

Hake needs the nine-hundred dollars he steals, but , just as importantly, he needs to tie up "the loose ends" in his

( 4 1 if e p. J 0 ) • From the opening paragraph the reader knows that Hake

( who tells his own story and is thus the only first person narrator in the volume ) is concerned with his beginnings and upbringing. An important part in the paragraph is hi s mention of being "conceived in the Hotel St. Regis," for we later learn that his very existence depends upon his mother's drunkenness one nights "My mother told me • ••that if she

hadn't had so many Old-Fashioneds •••I would still be unborn on a star" ( p. 318). Hake's "sadness"over his "chance" beginnings is perhaps at the root of his anxiety abou t his parents in general. Matters are further exacer­

bated by the fact that his mother and he have been estranged

since Hake's marriage , an event which his mother considers

"disastrous" (p . 304). Hake longs to come to some peace with her "so that she could be spared loneliness and neglect

in her old age." As he states at one point , "I longed • • •

to re-enact that whole relationship with my mother against a 24

more simple and human backdrop • • • " ( p. J04). His

natural fa ther , having divorced his mother when Hake was young , has long since died, and Hake has recently become separated from what appears to be his surrogate father, "the old man" in the parablendeum business. At the time he has just lost his j ob and is trying to to reconcile the facts of his distant past--his beginnings-­ wi th his present, he has premonitions of his future death-- both moral and mortal. It is when he thinks he's suffering from bronchial cancer that Hake is convinced that his own

"corruption" begins . The fallout from his premoni tion of death seems to permeate all of his consciousness and leaves him yearning for a simpler, more innocent past. He wond ers,

"Where were the trout streams of my y outh, and other innoc ent pleasures? " (p. 306) His heightened awareness of the corruption and theft surrounding him--the corrupt uranium broker in the office next door, the customer pocketing a tip in a rest- aurant , the phony blind beggar in the streets--is reminiscent

of Cac:h Bentley's seeing only decay after Cash breaks his leg in "0 Youth and Beautye" Hake's morbid consciousness distresses him to the point

that he "case [_SJ a round desperately for someone else who

could be blamed� ( p. 309) . His scape�oat becomes his natural father, who , Hake recall s, had tried to take him ( when he was fifteen ) out on a night of debauchery to "do a disservice to my mother" (p. 309-10). The plan is foiled, however, when

young Hake steals fifty dollars from his father's wa llet and 25 runs back to mother. Hake sees a causal link between his first and most rec ent crimesa the theft at his neighbor's house is a re-enactment of his wallet snatching frcm his fa ther. "It was my father's fault !" Hake concludes. Hake is trying to bridge the gap betwe en his past and present with a detenninist' s vi ew of durations he is attempting to recon­ cile his mi sery with one particular time by ignoring the responsibilities of his present qonsciousness and by assign­ ing causes and effects in a scheme of existence in which 2 8 "everything is dealt out in advance ." In other words ,

Johnny Hake must be a thief because it has been preordained; he must resign himself to his thievery and bronchial cancer and hi s further alienation from his mother and from whatever happiness he has had in the pas t.

The importance of Hake 's sudden triumph at the end of the story is not necessari ly that he does the "right thing" socially, but th� t he has declared himself free from causes

( the destiny which requires that he need be a thief) and from

" sad beginnini�s. 112 9

There were way s out of my trouble if I cared to make use of them . I wa s not trapped. I was here

on earth because I chose to be. And it was no

skin off my elbow how I had been given the gifts of life so long as I possess ed them, and I

possessed them then •• . (p. 319) Richard Rupp calls Johnny Hake 's assertion here an articul- ation of "Cheever's code of conduct" 1 "The need to seize 26 one's identity and to live it . out regardless of the con- JO sequences." Hake can once again be "thrilled" by his family and his life , because he has made the free decision to be here . His very existence is the result of his creative choice; he has rega ined his ability, as Bergson said, to

"be come ," to change , "to incessantly reinvent his own l being." J He has not , however, cut himself off completely from the past. Hake had been fixated on one particular . portion of the past which he thought was responsible for hi s misery. What Hake re�lizes is that he's been given

"gifts" so fundamental and so important--sd.mply the gift to exist as an aware and free person--that a past which in- eludes only his unfortunate family relationships is an inadequate and incomplete resource for hi s use in the present .

a By accepting "the gifts of life" he makes greater portion of his past life avai lable. He i s by no means trapped. That he also can be a law abiding and accepted member of Shady

Hill seems nearly incidental by comparison.

While Johnny Hake grapple s with the meaning and extent

of his freedom for mos t of "The Housebreake r of Shady Hill ," a significant chunk of "The Trouble of Marcie Flint" is devoted to an artis tic rendering of the freely living conscious­ ness of Charlie Flint that Hake has only at the end of his

story discovered within his ppwers . Charlie Flint's diary

entries ( pp. 347-50 ) so perfectly exemplify what Bergson

referred to as "inner dura tion" ( "the melting of states of 32 eonsciousness into one another" ) that 1hese pages are among 27 the most magi cal in the volume. The diary describes the

Sunday afternoon he left his wife and children, the da. before he boards a Europe-bound boat. The reasons for

Flint 's escape and his testy elucidation of them are a drama­

tic contrast to the nearly ineffable and unreasoned happiness

of the afternoon on which he departs. I'll return to the

voyage in a second .

"Oh God , was I happy l " Charlie writes about that

Sunday. He describes how he spent the afternoon happily working on hi s house and jumping into a cold pool for a swim. He takes delight in watching his wife sleep, and

from the bedroom window he watches hi s son send a balsa

wood plane up intc the skya

And then, like some trick in the movies, I saw

myself as my son, standing in a like garden and

sending up out of the dark a plane , an arrow , a

tennis ball, a stone--anything--while my sister

drew hearts in the gravel. The memory of how

deep this impulse to reach .into the light had

been [• ] completely charmed me, and I watched the

boy send the plane up again and again . ( p. J48)

The "trick in the movies" to which he refers appears to be

the "mira�le of affective memory" which Poulet says was

essential to the Romantic notion of time and to Marcel 3 3 Proust in his Remembrance of Things Past. At an unexpected

moment, a rush of involuntary memory floods Charlie 's per-

ception of the simple event of his s on shooting a toy plane 28 into the air. Suddenly the moment becomes endowed with a deeper, richer resonance than would be p ermitted by a non- i e n e nterp netrati g consciousn ss . The mom ent is, as Poulet said of the Romantic moment, full of " profundi ty and all the infinity of duration of which a man feels capable. " 34 I n the i h i instant the plane hits 1the l ght , a huge rush of C arl e ' s life wells up and he is elated by how "full of fun" he feels ( p. J49) . Charlie settles down in the ·front yard to read his news­ paper, and , just as Johnny Hake's .depravity has caus ed him to see only corruption , Charlie' s delight in his duration renders all the news good newsa "• ••th at sometime power of the Sunday paper to evoke a rain-wet world of fallen crowns and inevitabl e war seemed gone" ( p. 349) . The private joy he takes in the golden light of the afternoon is more mesmeri zing to him than the world report ed in the papers.

The "whiteness of Marcie 's thighs" drifts into his mind .

Charlie's next words seem like a common man's manife5 tat ion of the Bergsonian ideal of duration s Then I was seized by some intoxicating pride in

the hour , by the joy and the natura lness of my

relationship to the scene, and by the ease with whi ch I could put my hands on what I ne ed ed . ( p . 35�

Charlie ' s wonderful psychological wholeness is only with momentary , however, for as Charlie celebrates the hour lovemaking , his chi ldren are in the kitchen eating poison. The children are saved, but his wife Marcie chooses the happy moment of their escape from death to confes:;her infidelity 29 to Charli e . Impulsively , Charlie leaves Shady Hill immediately and is on his boat the very next day. In an attempt to put distance between the unfortunate, impalatable facts of his wife 's past, Charlie justifies his departure on the bas is of needing to flee not just his wife, but the superficialities of the Shady Hill lifestyle in which she ha s immersed herself to combat loneliness during Charlie's earlier business trips.

The narrator of the story spares us from taking Charlie's critique too seriously , however. Charlie is bitter, "and

like all bitter men, Flint • • • was more interested in un­ loading his own pe ppery feelings than in learning the truth"

{p. J4J ). The suburbs may indeed be "holes"--or, as Cheever says , " c onfinement"•... but Charlie's fli ght cannot be justified

on the basis of his dislike of a place. Into Charli e's mind

can flow the great ocean of his existence and experi ence; the PTA meetings and supermarkets are incapable of ha rming

in any lasting way the depth and lucidity of his consciousness.

And with the sounding of the fogh orn on the boat , his past

family happiness returns to him in a blast of affective memory as powerful as that whi ch he felt that previous Sunday aft ernoon. "Escape," as Cheever savs , is not the means for

eliminating confinement ; Cheever endows Charlie with this

knowledge , and the last we hear from Charlie, we clearly

realize that he 'll keep good on his vow to return to Shady


Cheever' s short sketch , "The Worm in the Apple," unlike

the above story wi th its attention to the inner workings of

the individual consciousness, does thrust the reader Xito JO the collective consciousness of Shady Hill. The narrative voice, acting as the spQkesman for the town , tells the reader about an abnormally, thoroughly contented Shady Hill family named the Crutchmans. How i s it, the narrator wonders , can anyone be so happy? And for the remainder of the sketch the narrator searches for the flaw in their happiness, the worm in their apple. He is confounded to find no real "caus e"--either a e kness or a strength -which w a - gives them the drive to keep from falling apart. On the surface, the Crutchmans are fully in step with their commun­ i tya Larry Crutchman rides the train to work, the couple ob­ serV'e the "su�ptuary laws ," they pro j ect themselves outward to serve the c ommunity. �nd , a s the reader has seen, that is the orderly, linear way of Shady i lites What the reader H l . a sks ( and the narrator, in essence, asks the same thing ) is

a why should couple fa ll · suspect for their seeming adherence to the will of the community? Are all the others unhappy?

_ What, then, is. the worm in the others ' apple? The key to the unhappiness of the others may lie in their defi ciency of the Crutchmans ' strengths.

The moments of the Crutchmans ' lives are finely balanced between their "broad range of natural en h sia sms ( p .J42 )-­ ••• t u " their inner appreciation for things worldly and for their

ove nd the demands of their neighbors. And they mutual l --a

have reached a happy medium between mechanical and inner time. This is not to say that the Crutchmans have become some of

McLuhan's somnambulists; on the contrary, the Crutch�ans 31 have , as Frederick Bracher notes about several Cheever characters, "the ability to roll with the punch , immerse in the destrctive element , [and] accept change and abnormality 5 as normal. .. 3 The Crutchmans have not retreated into them- selve s to wage a bitter war with clock time , and the energy that they save leaves them, at the sketch's end , seemingly impervious to "the usual destructiveness of time." .t\.s the narrator says at the end , "They had' lost neither their teeth nor their hair" (p. J41 ). The Crutchmans , as I have shown, are the "first family" of Shady Hill insofar as their ability to keep their sense of balance between the subje ctive and objective worlds is concerned. Johnny Hake and Cha:iie Flint--though never achieving the degree of the Crutchmans ' wholeness--do at the end of their respective stories seem to overcome the ir particular "imbalances. " Hake ends his reliance on only a part of his past and his need to have a crooked destiny.

Charlie realizes his wrong solution ( a phys ical escape) to a wrong diagnosis ( that the suburbs are the reason for his misfortune ). Both chara cters also become happier, more aware and alive beings and are at the same time reintegrated into the life of the community from which they had alienated

themselveso What will be seen in the next stories examined are characters who , for the most part , feel the uneasiness

of a challenge to theli' temporal:i.ty--and , in that instant of

discomfort , sometimes show signs of psychic growth--and then

turn away from coming closer to the more profound sense of

personal duration experienced by the lead players in the J2

stories just discussed .

Cash Bentley in "0 Youth and Beauty" holds nothing but animosity toward the clock time to which the Crutchmans

have so gracefully adapted. Cash ' s sensitivity toward the

deleteriousness of clock time has probably been ingrained

during his collegiate care er in hurdling . For the track

athlete the ticking of the stopwatch--the tic king off of

tenths of seconds--is the symbol of his anxiety : how to make

the time go slower during the cortte st? how to "improv� the

time? Cash 's adult life is wrapped up in beating �he clock.

Just as his hurdle ra ces at parties are not really races,

so is his contest with clock time not really a contest--Cash

is the victor in his opponentless match ; the watch is the

victor against all its mortal opponents.

Cash has officially dec�ared his past over ( in refusing

a j ob with his alumni council) , but he, the stubborn athlete, does not really give up the pas t. While he has been a star

and his past has been "brilliant ," he insists on performing

a physical ritual--the hurdle race at Shady Hill parties-­

which will provide him the illus ion that he is defeating the

ru sh of time o Despite Trace Bearden's chiding about Cash 's

thinning hair, Cash doesn't ever grow old as far as he's

concerned until he is unable to continue the ritual. When

Ca sh breaks his leg at a party one night , his means to vi s it

the past and to maintain the illusion of perpetual youth

are broken. too. He is detached from his identity.

Cash turns gloomy after his accident. Suddenly "every­

thing around him seemtl!C. subtly to have changed for the worse. JJ

Even his senses • • • conspire to damage the ingenuous world that he had enjoyed for so many years" ( p. 254 ). All around him he sees and smell things whi ch remi:-;d him of his own decay. There is rotten meat in the refrigerator; "putrid"

fading roses in the living room; a spider web that gags him in the attic. He feels " erotic excitement" for the old whore--"a cartoon of Death"--he sees in an alley (p. 254).

Cash feels no enjoyment in going out to parties or being with

friends. In essence , Cash loses "the thing that had preserved

his equilibrium"• his own special access to th e past.

Cash's bewilderment soon turns to "bitter jealousy . "

n As he watches a party of y ou g people next door, he wond ers about the gulf of time between them.

He does no t understand what separates him from these

children in the garden next door • • • He has been

adored and happy and full of animal spirits, and

now he stands in the dark kitchen, deprived of his

athletic prowess, his impetuousness, his good looks-­

of everything that means anything to him. He feels

as if the figures in the next yard are the specters

from some party in the past where all his tas tes

and desires live, and from which he has been

cruelly removed. ( p . 256)

In lieu of the hurdles, Cash tries other forms of

behavior to see if he can hit on the canti.nation which will

bring back his old s elf. But Cash is a hurdler; his a ttempts

to get back to his youth through other physical means only J4 make him look pathetic. He dances around the kit chen,

singing , "jaba jaba jaba jaba" when he hears the music next door.

At the club he forces himself on a young girl and dances art

"ancient two-step." He interrupts young lovers out on the terra ce ( pp. 256-7). Since it is only hurdling that will give him the illusion

of wh oleness again, Cash lets his healing leg be damned and

starts rearranging the furniture at the club for another

ra ceo He finishes the contest with no ill effects and the

very next day " Cash seemed like himself again" ( p. 258). He

has reclaimed his ritual, but he is not to complete it

again. After an evening of partying Cash comes home and

wants to run the hurdles. He thrusts a gun in his wife 's

hand for her to start the race, but the gun goes off and

Cash is shot dead . ( It ,is unclear whether Loui se has shot

Cash intentionally or accidentally. )

Cash's life and end are tragic. He invests his entire

exi stence upon a snippet of his youth to which he has no

access except through a physical performance. The � equili­

brium" in his life is shaky indeed, for it is impossible to

live forever'.-·in the biologici:.rl pnesent (that is, impossible to stop from physically deteriorating ), which is precisely

what his fragmented sense of duration requires. Cash is

very close to being an animal in that his psychological

apparatus is so dependent upon his bodily performance ; a

psychologi cal sense of wholeness seems unavailable to him.

Cash Bentley is, as Lynne Waldeland said, "like a ra cehorse 35 who will never run again." 36

Blake , the villain in "The Five-Forty-Eight ," is also in many wa�: s like an animal. Unlike Cash, however, Blake does not yearn to relive an idyllic past. But Blake does perfonn a series of rituals that seem to make him an embodiment of

Shady Hill Time. He is an uncompas si onate enforcer and

proponent of "sumptuary laws" and punctuality and propriety.

H� finds safety on his commuter �rain , and when he gets home from work he expects his dinner on the table. He gets

sadistic pleasure from hurting the weak--like Miss Dent , whose

time-sense is out of synch with the clock--and quarrel ing with

the social nonconformist, Mr. Watkins. Blake ' s inner

consciousness is thoroughly sealed with the generic wrapper

of public sensibility and linear time. He liv� nearly always

within "the colorl ess shadow" of existence to which Bergson 37 referred in his study of pure duration.

It is only when Blake is confronted with the prospects

of his own dea th that he betrays his humanity. Miss Dent ,

the mental ly unstable secretary whom Blake seduced and had

fired, corners him on a train and tells him not to move

because she has a gun ·in her purse and she's ready t o shoot

him for the trouble he 's caused. It is then that Blake

begins to reflect upon his life for the first time. He thinks

about the bullet wound her gun would make in his belly and he

recalls a scene from the war ( which , as the reader recalls ,

Shady Hill has agreed to forget) a "The memory came in a rusha entrails, eyes, shattered bone, odure , and other filth {ti 291). J6

When Blake is led to the train tracks , he associates the

splashing of ra in with "a conception of shelter, so light and

strange that it seemed to belong t o a time of his life that he could not remember" (p. 292). The recollection seems to be of his life in the womb , of his biological beginnings.

As Miss Dent delivers her denouncement of Blake 's wickedness,

he is brought into a peaceful reverie that is similar to what might be swimming thro ugh the mind of Johnny Hake or Charlie

Flint : "He heard from the dark fiver the drone or an outboard

motor, a sound tha t drew slowly behind it across the dark

water such a burden of clear sweet memories of gone summers

and gone pleasures that it made his skin crawl ••• " ( p. 29J).

When the immediate threat of death is remove d, the reader

assumes--from the way the story ends ( Blake picking up his hat and wal king home ) --Blake will be untouched by the whole experience. The reader suspects that Blake will never be

anything but an unreflective , linear character who will, in

the future , be more selective of his prey.

Miss Dent is the perfect , completely antithetical,

rival for Blake. Just as Johnny Hake needs to tie up the

"'loose ends" in his life , Miss Dent need to "wash her hands "

of Blake, who represents the force which contributes to her

psychologi cal distress. I n the hospital where Miss Dent has recently been a patient , she isn't "cured"-..!'they only

wante.cl to take away my self respect" ( p. 289 ). She cla ims tha t

her doctors want her "to dream about sewing and basketwork. "

They apparently want her to become orderly, functional, 37 passive--in essence , like a good Shady Hill resident. Miss \ Dent 's confrontation with Blake, tha-i, is more than just

Dent 's "getting even" for his mistreatment of her. She wants to defeat the force which would have her dreams glossed with lineari ty. Even though she is mentally unstable insofar as society's definitions are concerned, she is "better" than

Blake. She still has "good dreams"--"about picnics and heaven. and the brotherhood of man" --even though she is incabable of realiz ing such happiness in waking life o By keeping her dreams , by not submitting to Blake 's "sewing and basketwork" world , she can at least stay in nominal touch with the depths of her cosciousness. By making Blake kne el in the filth--by the tracks of the commuter train--she symbolically rids herself of Shady Hill T ime and can go about finding the "kindness" and "saneness" which she has submerged in her.

We have earlier seen a little bit about how Shady Hill

Time is odd and distressin,:=; to ten-year-old Amy Lawton in

"The Sorrows of Gin. ". The monotony in the life of Amy's parents is alleviated by their drinking , which dulls their awareness of time passing . Her parents are " like actors in a play" who live in a world of illusory happiness, where a drunk woman misses her chair and falls to the floor and the incident passes without notice, as if nothing or no time has passed at all. Alcohol in thi s story and others seems to arrest the march of mechanical time for many Shady Hillites. The capacity of a character to love also combats the oppression

of linear time, howeve r. Johnny Hake's reconciliation with J8 his sad past and chaotic present . for instance , is largely possible for him because of his abi lity to love his life and the lives of others . The power of lave is important in the happiness and wholeness of Charlie Flint and the Crutchmans as well.

In "The Sorrows of Gin" the reader sees another example of the interrelation between love and time . Mr. Lawton, for most of the story, is presented as a model Shady Hill resident.

His relationship with Amy , however, seems to consist mostly of what Amy calls "superfluous" advices "'Feed the cat. •

'Do your homework. � 'Pass the nuts .'" (p. 235). It is only

in the final paragraph that the reader finds that Mr. Lawton has any love for his daughter at all. He sees Amy sitting at the station, waiting for the train which will take her from �hady Hill. The uproar that follows Amy's surreptitious emptying of two bottles of gin into the kitchen sink to

save her alcoholic parents has caused her to see how "crude and frail" the adult world is. (p. 246) But the sight of Amy on the bench causes a small flicker of love to warm

Mr. Lawton's consciousness. He is "touched" b.Y her "as it was in her power to touch him only when she seemed helpless

or when she was very sick" (p. 248). And then the "miracle

of affective memory " hits hima

He shivered with longing, he felt his skin coarsen as when, driving home late and alone , a shower of

leaves on the wind crossed the beam of his head­ lights, liberating him for a second at the most

from the most literal symbols of his life --the J9

buttonless shirts, the vouchers and bank statements,

the order blanks , and the empty glasses. He seemed

to listen--God knows for what. Commands , drums ,

the crackle of signal fires, the music of the

glockenspiel--how swe et it sounds on the Alpine

air--singing from a tavern in the pass , the honking

of wild swans ; he seemed to smell the salt air in

the churches of Venice. ( p. 248)

And then, suddenly , "as it was wi.:th the leave s , the power of her figure to trouble him w�s ended" ( p. 248). He becomes

"himself" --hi s Shady Hill persona. Returned to his public sensibilities and illusions , Mr. Lawton thinks in clich&sa "How could he teach her that home sweet home was the best place of all?" ( p. 248). Mr Lawton has , if even momentarily , come within the presence of his inner self. But his love for Amy--his very own daughter--which spawns his step from the "sha1\ow self" is so slight thc..t the reader doubts if

Mr. Lawton has moments as rich as these very often.

Will Pym's contentment in "Just Tell Me Who It was" may at first glance appear to be related to his seemingly bound­ less capacity for love of his wife Maria. However, the delight he takes in her is s:>mewhat more complex. Early on in the

story we learn that Will is a successful, prosperous

businessman who has come a long way from his poverty-stricken youth. The memory of hls beginnings makes him uneasy , and when

Will sees the disparity between his past and that �f his

peers--who , during their youth, "had been skylarking on the turf at Groton or Deerfield"--he is "mi ldly res entful" ( p. 4.38). 40

Will's marriage to "a woman much younger than he" --Maria-­ s eems to be his effort to relive the pa st. Since Will is now endowed with the worldly resources that his parents never had , he can afford to let ·a_p�ojection of himself, his wife , live a youth of prosperi ty and security that he could not enjoy.·

Will likes not only a young wife , but a "childish and capricious wife ," a woman/child 11e can spoil with gi.fts and smother wi th love. He invokes Maria' s words wheneve r possible just as if he were a proud father speaking of the cute things his child said at the supper table. Anything that strengthens Maria's dependence on Will makes him happy , for if she were to grow independent , his past , his youth , would be separated from him. Will thinks he has tied up the " loo se ends ," the unsatisfa ctory past of his life.

His love for Maria is, like the hurdle race for Cash

Bentley , the element in his life that will give him some

semblance of wholeness and completenes s. As Will walks in

the woods with her, he reflects upon this situations

It was Maria 's youth and beauty that had informed

his sense and l eft his mind so open that the

earth seemed spread out before his eyes like a

broad map of reason and sensuality ••••All

that had ever been deprived of was now his. ( p. 400)

Will' s genero sity to this pro jection of his past is

tested , however,when Maria insists on wearing a sexy outfit to the Apple Blossom Fete. To let her go to the dance dressed as she wants, Will reasons , would be to threaten her 41 perfect "innocence" in a "wi cked world" (p. 44J). He relents despite the "grave danger" and later must try and recapture the innocence he thinks his wife lost in the country club parking lot . Will's knocking down of the man he thinks has slept with his wife is a ludicrous , adolescent act , but his

�efense" of Maria 's alleged lost honor restores his vision of the perfect past relived. Still , the sense of wholeness whi ch is restored to Will is--and has been s ince the beginning of this peculiar relationship with Maria--built upon a soft and false foundation. He must draw from resources outside his own consciousness to give himself a feeling of complete­ ness. Furthermore , his excessive love for the idyllic past, wh ich his wife lives for him, is certainly a hindrance to

Maria ' s psychological growth. The reader wond ers if the tyranny of Will's love can wi thstand greater challenges as

"his pa st" begins to assert her own idependence.

Francis Weed's dilemma in "The Country Husband" is not with deciding how to undo an unfortunate past but with how

to confront the uneasiness he. experi ences when the past

doesn't stay submerged. "To begin at the beginning," as

Cheeven says , Francis's brush with death in the airplane

makes him a bit dis trustful of the reality of clock time .

His ali enation from his family and fellow commuters ( to whom

a normal Shady Hill resident turns for comfort ) over their

because there wasn't inability to understand the crash ( " • • • a drop of rain in"'!Shady Hill" I �· Js8) > forces Francis to

retire into his inner self for a whileo

It is pure coincidence that the night after the crash 42

Francis recognizes the Farquarsons ' maid as the French

collaborator he had seen chastized after the war. His

remembrance of the circumstancessu rrounding her past and her

astoni shing appearance in Shady Hill further ali enates

Francis from fami ly and friends. Since Shady Hill will not

acknowledge the messy past of war, the recollection must

stay inside Francis's mind. Within the space of twenty-four

hours , Francis, for perhaps the first time , recognizes ' the importance of his own durationa "Ehe encounter) had opened up his memory and his sense, and left them dialated"

(p. 392 ). Francis , accustomed to letting the past drift away from him, is thrust into a refreshingly strange state

which leaves him confused. Through no effort of his

· rational mind , a new non-linear world has welled up in his

consci ousness; the newness of it all leave s him socially


The first person Francis sees after the party is, as

luck would have it, the beautiful young babysitter, Anne

Murchison , who se beauty gives Francis a rush of affective

memOI"J v.h ich leaves him with an ineffable happiness. 'N hen

he sees her " • ••he experienced in his consc iousness that

moment when mus ic breaks glass, and felt a pang of recog-

ni ti on as strange , deep, and wonderful a s anything in his _.

life" ( p. 392 ). But at the very same time when Francis is embarking upon a richer more profound ps,vchological existence,

he externalizes his unfamiliar feelings and focuses them upon

an '. object (Anne Murchison ) so that he can understand--in words,

not intuitively--his psychological state. Bergson made 43 mention of this very tendency a

We instinctively tend to solidify our impressions

in order to express them in language. Hence we

confuse the feeling itself, which is in a perpetual state of becoming , with its permanent

object , and especially with the word which 38 expresses thi s object.

Francis's objectification of his feeling leaves him bursting with independenceo His infatuation is not the result of some mid-life crisis ( p.)96) but is simply an assertion of his freedom, he thinks. Convinced that the girl can reclaim for him what he has lost in life , Francis makes all kinds of plans for searet trysts. But Francis's deficiency in life is really his lack of the interpenetrating conscious­ ness which he experi enced briefly before he met Anne.

"Bitten grave ly ," Francis must do something to halt what becomes a ph;,:sical desire for Anne , lest he find him­ s elf in the thick of s ome scandal which would force nis complete banishment from the community. He sees no other way out but to vi sit a psychiatri st who can make some decisions for him. That he will not read his own mind , but have some- one else do this pains Francis a

To abdicate the perfect lone liness in which he had

made most vi tal decsions shatnered his concept

of character and left him now in a condition that felt like shock. He was stupified. ( p. 4 08)

The visit puts Francis back on the straight and narrow in­

sofar a s Shady Hill expectations are concerned. Dr. Herzog, 44 the psychiatrist, recommends woodworking as therapy, and

"Francis finds true consolation in the simple arithmetic involved .. p. • • • ( 409 ). Eugene Chesnick has said that Johnny Hake and Francis

Weed are "the lucky ones, still alive by chance, a fact which they a.clmowledge and which makes them nervous . .. 39 Chesnick's comment doesn't seem accurate concerning Francis. It's

J true that he has been reintegrated with the community, but he 's far from "alive" in the broader sense of the word . The interpenetrating mind that was opened to the past early in the story has been reduced to a coldly analytical organ at the end. Johnny Hake , on the other hand , has not escaped from freedom ; he will live a rich and deeply felt life in which he will not find " consolation in simple arithmetic."

Francis and Johnny are not the only ones who are "alive " at the end of The Housebreaker collection stories; each of the protagonists s eems to find his or her way back into the community. However, the pSJChological growth and depth of each character is less depend ent upon the individual 's acceptance by society than upon his ability to make a meaning­ ful peace--if even tentative , perhaps necessari ly tentative-­ between his temporality and that of the linear community.

This is not to say that characters such as Cash Bentley and

W ill Pym, for instance, should escape the reader's closest scrutiny. The two of them, after all , devise a pers onal sense of wholeness which makes life meaningful for them. But

Cash and W ill have built a structure of identity and a sense of duration of playing cardsa their personal completeness 45 collapses if the base on whi ch the structure stands ( for

Will--his wife ; for Cash--his races) is jiggled. Blake ,

Mr. Lawton, and Francis Weed feel the jiggle in their respective consciousnesses, and turn from what is a creative discomfort . They fear or misunderstand the pain that can cure them and take them out of a stri ctly linear exi stence.

The Crutchmans, Johnny Hake , Charlie Flint and even Miss

Dent face moments of cri sis in which they doubt their sense of duration ; yet through the strength of their personalities they come to a reconciliation with their sense of time that will be tested over and over again as the:1 continue to grow , or, a s Bergson says, "to become ."

Lynne Waldeland , like Eugene Chesnick, points out that

Cheever often delivers his characters safely back to the societal fold ( or back into their own presence) with sudden, lucky plot twi sts. Waldeland , who has almost nothing but praise for The Housebreaker collection, sees these "fortuitous escapes" a s the only "weakness" in the storiesa

The crises in these people 's lives are real and

painful, but the ends of the crises come so

abruptly and , in some cases , with so little

plausibility, that it may be hard for the reader 0 to feel their seriousness. 4

The point seems well-taken. Johnny Hake is about to steal again, and the rain stops him. Charlie Fl int is on the way to the Azores when a foghorn beckons him back to Shady Hill.

Francis Weed is on the verge of raping the babysitter on the 46 day he visits a psychiatrist, and the next week he' s behaving

"acc eptably, " woodworking in his cellar. It seems that a deux � machina helps bring at least a temporary closure to the crises of some of Che ever 's characters.

The "foruitousness" of these conclusions are , however, defensible if the importance of psychological time on

Cheever's storytelling technique is taken into consideration.

By ma.king a brief examination of .Cheever' s aesthetics the reader can see that ��e endings are entirely appropriate for and consistent wi th Cheever' s style and his approach toward time.· 47


In the stories just examined it is evident th3.t Cheever brings to most of his ma jor chara cters a heightened awareness of their own durationo The character must often then tread the fine line between satisfying his sense of self and the community. Francis W eed, for instance, must not let the

"bracing sensation of independerce" he feels after meeting

Anne Murchison interfere with his need to get along with his fellow Shady Hillites. His unne cessarily harsh rudeness to Mrs . Wrightson at the train station results in possible retaliation against his daughter, a fight ,with hi s wife and bani shment from a partyo As Richard Rupp says of Cheever's 41 fi ction, "Balance is not easily won, but it is everything .11

And the same sense of balance--weighing the importance of both the subjective and the objective world--i s important in the structure of Cheever' s works.

It i s true , as Samuel Coale notes, that Che everrs stories

"are crammed with dreams, ni ghtmares, reve ries, memories, 42 omens, spells and epiphani es. " But Cheever doesn't stray

far from tradition .into any wildly experimental mode of

storytelling� His stories still have "plots" more or less

in the traditional sense--with clearly defined conflicts

and int eracti ons occurring outside the realm of the human

consciousness . Still , in bringing to the fore the importance 48

of inner time to his characters , Cheever does break from a

stri ctly linear development in his fiction. His stories

proceed in fits and start s --moving swiftly here , receding

slowly into dream or memory there--in a kind of rubato

rhythm. Chronological order seems not essential to Chee�er,

and at times there seems to be a flimsy causal relationship between one scene and the next . Francis Weed, for instance ,

can be shocked by the sight of the French maid and fall in

love with the babysitter within the space of two paragraphs.

This non-linear a rrangement was the source of criticism for some of Cheever's earlier published stories. Diana

Trilling in 1 94) said that " even the best �hort storie�

� ••ar e strongly worded hints rather than completely 43 · communicated statements." But it is not a " statement" or lesson Cheever wishes to communicate. And his "hints"

do come together even though Cheever appeals less to the

-- c faculties of human reason wh i h seeks logical motivations

for actions--tha n to the mobile intuition. Or, as Frederick Bracher notes , his stories "depend on the logic of the 44 imagination to supply a fel t unityo"

. Cheever' s presentation of modern psychologi cal exi stence

is fully in step with what Bergson thought was the best a

writer could do to help man und ersta nd his duration . Earlier

it was mentioned that Bergson felt language was , by its very nature , an agent of fragmentation, because it is

inadequate to describe the conscic·usness, which, when operating

freely, is constantly changing . Although language is the 49 tool of the shadow self, the writer can still ..ar range" his shadow in such

a way as tor make us suspect to the extraordinary

and illogical nature of the object which pro jects

it; he has made us reflect . that outward expression

to Eomething of that contradiction, that inter-

penetration, whi ch is the very essence of the

elements expressed . Encouraged by him , we put . aside for an instant the veil which we interposed

between our consciousness and ourselves. He has 4 brought us back into our own presence. 5

Throwing aside the veil of cold logicality and mechanical time which obscures our becoming and understanding of ourselves is indeed the business of Cheever' s stories. "Fiction," 46 Cheever says, "is meant to illuminate , to explode, to refresh."

When the reader sees the creative and interpenetrating beings of a Johnny Hake or a Charlie Flint , he becomes a little more luminous , a little "bigger," and he is enco uraged to return to his "own presence."

The plots in The Housebreaker stori e s are thus arranged to follow less a chronological sequence of "events ," than a pattern of impressions and intuitions . If the reader applies the traditiona l , linear framework to an examination of the plots of "The Country Husband" and "The Trouble of

Marcie Flint, " for instance , he might find that these stories seem like the pasting together of a few Cheever notebook fragment s. In the former story, a number of scenes which could be fleshed out into full length stori es 5 0 are introduced and then casually disappear from consideration in the story. The loose strands of the narrative--the air­ plane crash, the French maid's appearance, Jupiter's romping around in the tomato patch--are never tied up . These elements dri ft in and out of the story as perceptions float in and out of the human consciousness.

The "fortuitous" conclusions of the particularly episodic stories in The Housebreaker collection ( "The Country Husband ," "The Trouble of Marcie Flint" ) are not represent­ a tive of a feeble writer who doesn't know how to wrap things up, but are a reflection of fiction which is interested in the sometimes flighty quality of the subjective world . The suddenness of the endings to the se stories is consistent with the overall structure in general. Furthermore , the character who " comes around" at the end of a story--Charlie Flint or Johnny Hake-- or who , if even briefly , becomes more attuned to his inner self--Mr. Lawton or Blake--is not

acting implausibly ; he is liEtening to the dictates of his true consciousness which rushes up from below the surfa ce of Shady Hillman ners and time. Bergson, in debunking determini sm, wrote at length about human action which is

unrelated to logical motivesa It is at the great and solemn crisis , decisive of our reputation wi th others , and yet more with ourselves, that we choose in defiance of what is

conventionally called a motive , and this absence

of any tangible reason is the more striking the 47 deeper it goes. 51

Charlie Flint , given the circumstances of his wife's infidelit� has a logical "justifi cation" for being on that boat to Europe. Still, he will return to Shady Hill to the wife and children he loves . It is in the ext ended

( 35 ). blow of the foghorn that he sees " their much-loved faces" p. 7

m He akes a decision whi ch he cann.pt reconcile logically , but that deep down h e knows intuitively is right. Why does Johnny Hake quit stea ling? He i s still in dire financial need when he 's on his way to rob the Pewters . But Johnny 's lot is magically revers ed and he accounts for it by saying s

.. • • • it was no more than the rain on my head--the smell

of it flying up to my nose- -that showed me the extent of

• my freedom •••" ( p. 319 )

" 'Trigger' mechanisms" ( "the smells or sounds or random perceptions which give rise to an given thought or memory " ) 48 used extensively in the works of Joyce and Proust , are often employed by Cheever in prodding the dormant conscious- ness, and the reby increasing the level of subje ctivity in the stories. Bracher notes that "nothing recreates the

pa st like a whiff of perfume or the smell of an old house •

in Cheever's works . (McLuhan also mentions the importance

of the sense of smell, saying that it was " long considered 50 the root of memory and the unifying bas is of individuality." )

When Blake is being hunted on the streets of New '{ork in

''The Five-Forty-Eight" he stops into a bakery shop to

elude Miss Dent . He buys a coffe e ring and the "whiff of \its\ sugary warmth" relaxes him ( p. 281). Likewise, the i;::: - 52 sight of 1-1.my sitting on a train station bench "triggers" in

Mr. Lawton's memory the splendorous sights and s ounds and

smells of Europe .

Robert S labey sumned up the connection between Cheever's

storytelling t echnique and his psychological interests in this ways Cheever consis tently associates the values of

nature and the imaginat'i on, simple physical

pleasure s and dreaming because of their 5 1 connection with primal reality.

The "primal reality," the essential state of consci ousness

through which we come to comprehend our duration , is what

Cheever is aiming for.

rlnother way in which Cheever increases hi s readers ' awareness of the subjective world is by not referring to

social-cultural ev?nts or by including fictional "furniture"

which would place the story in a .particular era . The reader

hears nothing of presidents or rock 'n' roll or fashions or

an�thing very specific about what happens outside the world

of Shady Hill. About the closest the reader gets to a

historical reference is in "The Trouble of Marcie Flint" when

Mr. Selfredge , the conservative banker, reports to his wife

that Noel Ma ckham works for " a textbook company in New York that has been accused b! at least one Congre ssiona l committee

of publishing subversive Ameri can histories" (p. J52 ). If

it was known that the story was first published in 1 95 7 ,

it might be assumed that this was a reference to McCarthyism. 53

On the other hand , Mr. Selfredge could just as likely have

spoken those words with reference to the politi cal climate

of 1984. Cheever says that stories with such topical refer� 52 � ences were "apt to be worst." "A s nse of time that revolves around the sinking of ships and declarations of war seems to me a sense of time debased. We live at deeper 5J levels than these and fiction. should make this clear . .. Attention is therefore not diverted from the subjective

world, whi ch , though less "practical" to those in Shady

Hill or those in contact with the real world , is most

important in the world of Cheever's storie s . 54


In The Housebreaker of Shady Hill and Other Stories, the reader sees the constant interaction and conflict between the characters ' inner sense of time and that of the linear community of Shady Hill. Over and over again in these stories a ma jor character is confronted with some

situation in which the sense of time he uses to understand himself and hi s world is threatened.

For the character who is firmly entrenched in the mechanical time and regulari ty of Shady Hill, these chal­

lenges are most often qui ckly rebuffed. Mr. Lawton in

"The Sorrows of Gin," for instance , feels a flicker of the

duration experi ence--in whi ch his consciousnes s becomes

flooded with affective memory--is confused by it, and returns

to his shadow self. He and many other ShadJ Hillites stay

away from their inner selves and rhythms and project them­

selves outward to the community which will provi de them with

a single linear sense of time . Blake and Francis Weed,

though having two completely different disposition s ( the

former, a despicable character, and the latter, thoroughly

likeable ) , also turn away from psychological growth and a

realization of a senS:? of continuity in their relationships

with time.

What is important to note as this discussion of Che ever 55 and time comes to a close is that the author gives his protagonists a chance to explore the ir sense of self and time. There aren't anj strictly drawn caricatures in these stories; no one character represents c ompletely

a a any one sense of time. His ch r cters are human beings and play out their struggles with time with free will.

For the sake of consistency, Cheever could very easily have written the final scene in "The S o rrows of Gin" in whi ch Mr. Lawton comes to the station drunk and yells at

Amy fo r breaking a rule of order ( leaving the house without

s permi sion ) , which is something that he constantly does when she's at home . Cheever gives him the o pportuni ty to use what little love he has to ass ert--if only for a sdcond-­ his own inner self and sense of time . Similarly , Blake

could have been an even mo re despicable c ha ra c ter than he appears if Cheever had dropped all references to his memories. Cheever gives Johnny Hake and Blake alike the

chance to feel what it means to be alive and cons cious of

a continuous changing existence ; he does not pres ent his

characters as aut o ma tons, living as mere adjuncts of Shady

Hill and its meahanical time.

a The linear character Shady Hill cert inly ent ers into each story in some way, but Cheever alway s side-steps

any direct criticism of ito Shady Hill's emphasis on order

and regularity and its encourag ement of the self that is

rm projec ted outward , c onfo ing to its one rhythm, are well known. In the midst of confinement , some of Cheever's 5 6 characters do find meaning and happiness and wholeness in

Shady Hill. They see the moments of their lives as inter­ related and strike a happy balance between the subjective world of a multiplicity of rhythms and the objective linear world. 57


1J.B. Priestly, Man and Time, (New Yorks Dell Publishing

Co ., 1 964 ), p. 98. 2 Priestly, p . 98. JLinear time has been defined by Sebastian de Grazia in Of Time and Leisure (New York: The Twentieth Century

Fund , 1962 ) as follows a "Time does not repeat itself, it ticks off in a straight line , goes from t to t1 , in a contiuum, runs in an even flow or in a stream with gradated steel banks , moves like the ass embly line or the ticker tape. Essentially it resembles the picture Newton drew of

time in his Principiaa real and mathematical, flowing uniformly , embracing all objects and phenomena but aloof from the�, keeping its owniniependence , indestructible , universal , nothing happening to it yet enveloping all l'B.p­

penings of the un i verse as space envelops all objects,

every indivisible instant of it the same ever,Ywh ere. " (p. J18) 4 Priestly , Po viii. The term "Time-haunted" i s Priestly 's. 5Leon Edel , The Modern PS.'/Chological Novel, (New York :

The Universal Library , 1 964 ) , p . 29 . 6 Edel, p. 9J.

?Edel, p. 1 00.

8Georges Poulet, Studies in Human Time , trans . Elliott

Coleman, (Baltimore : The John Hopkins Press, 1956), p. J4. 58

9 Poulet, W• JJ-4 . 1 0Margaret Church, Time and Realitya Studies in

�ontemporary Fiction, (Chapel Hilla University of North

Carolina Press, 1 96)), p. 9.

1 1Edel, p. 2 9 .

1 2Henri Bergson, Time and Free Will , trans. F.L. Pogson,

(1910; New Yorks Harper & Row , 1960 ), p. 107 . 1 3Bergson, p. 196.

1 4Bergson, p . 1 28.

1 5Bergs on, p. 1 29. How the writer--the user of that language, the corrupter of pure duration--can accomplish pres enting states of consciousness is later discussed by

Bergson. I will address this problem in Part IV of thi s the sis. 1 6 Bergson , p. 2 3 1.

1 7 Church , p. 1 5 .

18wylie Sypher, Loss of the Self , (New -: ork1 Random

House, 1 962 ), IP• 58-9. 1 9 Lynne '1/aldeland , John Cheever, (Boston, Mass. s Twayne

Publishers , 1 979), p. 65 . She also mentions that with the exception of "The Sorrows of Gin" and "The Trouble of Marc ie

Flint ," "the stori es are not only�successful but nearly flawless" (p. 64 ), and that they represent " some of the fine st American short stories of the twentieth century" (p. 6J).

Ihab Hassan in Rad ical I�nocence (Princeton N.J. s Princeton

University Pres s, 1 961 ) says that the vo lume is a "fine work," while Eugene Chesnick praises Cheever for his storytelling 59 ability," fine control of na rra tive pace and considerable

t i t 9 ) . echn cal ingenui y " (p. 12 The Housebreaker of S had.y was published in 195 8, and each story has been collected

in The Sto ries of John Che ever (see below) o

2 0waldeland, p. 6J. 2 1 John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever, (New York;

Ballantine Books, 198 0 ), p. 255. All subsequent references to Cheever's s tori e s �ill be inc?rporated in the text . 22 Poulet, p. 1 4 o 2 3 Marshall ·. McLuhan , Understanding Media, ( New Yorks

S ignet Books , 1964) , p . 1J8 . 24 J o seph Frank, The Widening G.vre 1 Crisis and Mastery

In Modern Literature , ( New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers Univer.ity

Press, 1 963 ) p. 2J. 25 John Cheeve r , "Talk with John Ch ever," W i th John Hersey, New York Times Book Review, 6 March 1977. p. 24. 2 6 samuel Coale, "Cheever and Hawthorne : The American

Romancer's Art," Critical Essays on John Cheever, Ed.

R.G. Coll�ns , ( Boston, Mass: G.K. Hall & Co. , 1982), p. 241 . 2 7 Frederick Bracher, "John Cheever's Vision of the

World," Critical Essavs bn John Che ever, Ed . R.G. Collins , 6 ( Boston , Mass.a G.K. Hall & Co. , 1 982), p. 1 9. 28 Poulet, p. J J. 29 The " sudden triumph" to wh i ch I refer is caused by the falling of q.in in Johnny's face. This is the type of

ending which L.vnne Waldeland calls "fortuitous." I will

addre ss this quality of Cheever' s fiction in Part IV of this thesis. 6 0

3 0Richard Rupp , "Of That Time, of Those Places1 The

Short Stories of John Cheever," Critical Essay:;; on John

s Cheever, Ed. R.G. Collins , (Boston, Ma s.a G.K. Hall & Co., 1 982 ) , p. 241 . 31 Poulet, p. 35 . 32 Bergson , p . 91 . 3 JPoulet , p . 2 7. 34 Poul et, p . 2 5 . 35 Bracher, p. 1 79.

36waldeland , p. 70.

J7Bergson , p. 231 .

J8Bergson , p. 131.

39Eugene Chesnick, "The Domesticated Stroke of John

· Cheever," Critical Essays on John Cheever, Ed . R.G Collins,

(Boston, Mass,a G.K. Hall & Co. , 1 982), p. 131. 4 77. 0w a ld eland , p. 41 Rupp, p. 244. 42 Coale, p. 2 03 . 4Joiana Trilling , "Fiction in Revi ew," Nation , 10 April

4 3 p. 5 3 1 9 ' J 44 • Bracher, p. 172 . 45 Bergson, p. 1J4. 46 John Cheever, "John Cheevers The Art of Fiction LXII ," Critical Essays on John Cheever, Ed. R. a. Collins, (Boston,

Mass.a G.K. Hall & Co . , 1982) , p . 98 . 47 Bergson, p. 170. 4 8Edel, p. 200 . 49 Bracher, p . 172. 61

5 �cLuhan, p . 1J6. 5 1Robert Slabey, "John Cheevers The 'Swimming ' of America ,"

Critical Essays on John Cheever, Ed . R.G. Collins . (Boston.

Mass.1 G . K. Hall & Co. , 1982), p. 1 88.

52 " cheever, .. John Cheevers The Art of Fiction LXII • p. 96.

53Bracher, p . 172. WORKS CONSULTED

Bergson, Henri . Time and Free Will. Trans . Elliott Coleman.

New Yorks Harper & Row , 196 0.

Bracher, Frerick. "John Cheever's Vi sion of the World."

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a Bosta>nf Mas s . G.K. Hall & C� ., 1 982. w. 168-80.

Burnhans, Clinton s. "John Chee ver and the Grave of Social

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Collins. Bost on, Mass .1 G.K. Hall & Co ., 1 982 . pp. 1 09-22 .

Ch e ever, John. "clohn Ch eeverz The Art of Fi cti on LXII ."

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• The Stories o f John heever. New Yorks ------C Ballantine Books , 1980.

· Tal wi th John Cheever. " With John H erse y ------" k .

a New Y o rk Time Book Re vi ew . 6 M rch 1977. pp. 1 , 24-6 .

Che sni ck, Eugene . 'The Dome sticated Stroke of John Cheever."

Critical Essays on John Cheever. Ed. R.G. C olli n s . Boston , Mass.i G.K . Hall, 1982. pp. 124-39.

Church, Margaret. T i m e and Reality: Studi es in Cont e mpo ra ry

Fic t i o n . Chap e l Hilla Un l versi ty of North Carolina Press, 1963.

Coale , Samuel� "Cheever and Hawt horne a The American Romancer's

a A rt . " Cr i t i c l Essay s on John Che ever. Ed . R.G. Collins .

Boston, Mas s. a G.K. Hall & Co ., 1982 . pp. 193-209. 6J

deGrazia , Sebastian. Of Time , Work , and Leisure . New York: The Twentieth Century Fund , 1 962 .

Donaldson , Scott. "The Machines in Ch eever's Garde�' Critical

Essays on John Cheever. E4 •.R� 6� �ollins . Boston, Mass.a

GoK• Hall & Co ., 1982. PP• 139-151 . Edel, Leon, The Modern Psychological Novel. New Yorks The

Universal Library, 1964

Frank, Josepho The Wid ening Gyre : Crisis and Mastery in •

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Hassan, Ihab. Radical Innocence : Studies in the Contemporary American Novel. Princeton , N.J. 1 Princeton University

Press, 1961 .

Karl , Frederi ck R. "John Cheever and the Promise of Pastoral ."

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Boston, Mass. a G.K. Hall & Co. , 1982 . pp. 209 - 1 9 . Kendl e, Burton. "The Passion of Nosta]gj.a in the Short Stories

of John Cheever. " Critic�l Essays on John Cheever.

Ed . Collins. Boston, Ma ss.a G.K. Hall & Co., 1 982 . R . G . pp. 219-230.

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Poulet, Georges. Studies in Human Time . Trans. Elliott Coleman. Baltimore 1 John Hopkins Press, 195 6 .

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Stories of John Cheever." Critical Essa·rs on John

Cheever. Ed. R.G. Collins. Boston , Ma ss.1 G.K. Hall .&

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