In The Country Husband, John Cheever introduces us to Francis Weed, a passive country man who leads a lackluster life. The story begins with a plane crash—an event that should be traumatizing and life-altering. However, Frances Weed hardly has a reaction to this frightening setting. He is truly a monument to apathy. Ironically, the crash is not the catalyst for the series of dramatized moments that gradually change his character; instead, his encounters with women stir his dormant emotions. Descriptions of the setting within each of these experiences reflect this sudden awakening. His memories, dreams, and newfound love seem to manifest every atmosphere. Unfortunately, the superficiality of his town stifles any emotion his experiences garner. He eventually must make a choice all humans face—whether to employ these changes in perceiving the settings of every day life, or to simply suppress them. Francis' reactions to the elements of setting in his world reflect the transformations in his character.
[...] Her reaction to the punishment mirrors Francis's tenacious demeanor. Francis decides not to share this memory with anyone, asserting that could not tell anyone .it would be a social as well as human error. The people in the Farquarsons' living room seemed united in their tacit claim that there had been no past, no war .the atmosphere of Shady Hill made the memory unseemly and impolite.” (p. 191). His unwillingness to share his extraordinary encounter suggests that the unfeeling and sheltered town as the culprit of his emotional isolation and. [...]
[...] Wrightson and the superficiality she radiates. His romantic feelings for Anne have invigorated him enough to finally speak his true mind. This is the moment where he officially disconnects himself from Shady Hill. After Mrs. Wrightson limps away from him, the atmosphere around him become beautiful once more—“The sky shone like enamel. Even the smell of ink from his morning paper honed his appetite for life, and the world that was spread out around him was plainly paradise.” (p. 194). [...]
[...] The last line of the story extinguishes any hope for ultimate change in character—“Then it is dark; it is night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains” (p. 203). This is similar to the mountain setting he summoned to distract himself from thoughts of Anne. Francis immerses himself in this same impossible, private atmosphere. However, this time he will likely stay inside himself permanently. He is to just be content in his Shady Hill home. John Cheever's story makes use of setting to illustrate one of the greatest human conflicts. Is it better to feel pain or not to feel at all? [...]
[...] Even after the plane crashes, his demeanor remains unfaltering. In the moment where everyone aboard the plane realizes that they are safe, the narrator describes their “continuing mortality” as idle splash and smell of heavy rain.” (p. 186). The word mirrors Francis's passivity and is reemphasized a few sentences later when the plane does not explode—long syntax varies to simply say, did. Nothing happened.” (p. 186). Indeed, nothing happens within Francis. Despite the magnitude of a plane crash, the first significant change within Francis occurs at a typical social gathering. [...]
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