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Literary Elements in The Wrysons by John Cheever

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The paper explores  detail as one of the literary elements of “ The Wrysons” . Details may either be used to deepen the impression of the scene or to bring some contrasting object/situation into the setting. Cheever’ s writing is rich in details due to its connection to place (a quiet suburb with upzoning at the front of all troubles) and the nature of the conflict (it’ s a merely psychological conflict coming from the inner traumatic fixations of the characters on some situations). Details are often ironic, such as garlic smell in the description of an unknown foreigner cited above.

Nevertheless, the author often uses them as a sign of disorder, of some sad or terrifying event. The medicine cabinet is the detail that cumulates the disastrous atmosphere in Irene’ s dream: “ She opened the medicine cabinet, the one place in the house that the Wrysons, in their passion for neatness, had not put in order” (Cheever 319: par. 4). The cabinet contains medication for Irene’ s daughter, pills and potion bottles had been being stuffed there for years. Mother opens this place just in the apotheosis of the disaster in her dream just to find out that in this emergency place, there is also a disorder.

Donald’ s father left his wife long ago with a child. The clothing of Donald’ s father (a house rose and buff-colored spats) as a detail contains a reference to his social status and personal carelessness as well as the sense of the only bitter reminder about the past days for Donald’ s mother (Cheever 320: par. 5). The cake (which Donald bakes to calm himself down and usually throws away) turns out to be the most powerful, even symbolic, detail that resolves the conflict.

Its sweetness (that makes it a sensual detail), its predestination to be thrown away convey the mood of both main characters. When the cake gets burned, they feel free from the sweet web of their illusions. However, as a cake is not a pathetic detail, the reader gets free also – by the very ironic and yet sympathizing tone of the story.

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preview essay on Literary Elements in The Wrysons by John Cheever
  • Pages: 4 (1000 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Literature
  • Level: Masters
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