John Cheever (1912-1982)… “Reunion”was first published in the Oct 27th, 1962 issue of The New Yorker. You can find it in the collection “The Stories of John Cheever”, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1979. You can listen to Richard Ford reading John Cheever’s “Reunion” here.
Read and listen: Learning to appreciate John Cheever’s stories
Study Guide for “Reunion” (John Cheever, 1962)
1.Identify the narrative voice in Cheever’s story and discuss how it contributes to your understanding of the story and its characters. For example, how does it help you understand the son and his father?
2.Comment on the following quotes from the story: “I would have to plan my campaigns within his limitations” / “I smelled my father the way my mother sniffs a rose” / “I hoped that someone would see us together. I wished that we could be photographed.”
3.Why does Charlie he regard his father as his doom and future?
4.What is the function of the secretary in the story?
5.What does the Grand Central Station symbolize in the story?
6.What do the restaurants symbolize in the story?
7.What does the story reveal about “class”, “race” and “gender”?
8.What is your interpretation of the way Charlie’s father is represented in the story? Does he like his son?
9.Why does Charlie call his father “daddy” at the end of the story?
10.Examine the first and the last sentences of the story. What is common and why? How do you interpret the ending of the story? Does Charlie accept or reject his father?
11.Why does Charlie’s father want to get him a newspaper? Could this have any symbolic value in the story?
12.What is the significance of the title? Although the story depicts Charlie’s reunion with his father, the word “Reunion” is used without a definite or an indefinite article. Why?
© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, November 2008
Useful link: Study Guide for John Cheever’s The Enormous Radio