June 26, 2013

"The Bath" By Raymond Carver

All of Raymond Carver's stories are difficult to figure out. Most of the time the information I get feels inconsequential and the real questions I have are never fully answered. The stories do tend to draw me in but as soon as I'm engaged, the story ends and I'm left wondering what the hell happened.
Carver's writing process

"The Bath" is one such story. The basic storyline is quite clear. A Boy gets hit by car on his birthday, falls into a coma, and gets taken to the hospital. Boy's father and mother wait at his bedside while doctors attempt to figure out the problem. The mother is very worried and refuses to leave until she realizes its pointless to stay in the hospital when there's nothing she can do. She goes home with the intention of feeding the dog and taking a bath. 

Taking a bath. It's a key element of the story. The title is "The Bath". I know that the title of the story was later revised to "A Small, Good Thing" which may or may not reveal more about Carver's intentions. Perhaps the bath is important because it is a small good thing and small good things tend to help people during tough times. Once the woman arrives home, she receives a phone call about her son Scotty. Of course this is where the story ends and the dialogue is intentionally vague so that one has no idea who's calling. It might be the baker, the school, or the hospital. 

Lack of communication is a theme throughout this story. There's enough communication between characters to peak my interest, but not enough to understand what's going on. That's just it. The characters and their actions are interesting but communication never succeeds in stirring the same interest. Communication is an integral part of everyday life. People don't realize how important communication is until it disappears. Communication doesn't completely disappear in "The Bath" but certain kinds of communication are conspicuously absent. For example the baker in the beginning only wants to know what is absolutely necessary. He talks like a robot. Such communication is easily forgotten by people because it is boring. People like to be pleasant and respond well to positive emotions and appreciate a smile here and there. None of this positive energy exists in "The Bath". 

Anyways, I'm going to sleep. Here's a link to today's story so all five of the people who read this post have easy access to it. 

In the comment section post whatever you want. Your reaction to the story, my blog, helpful comments about my writing or whatever you want. The world is your oyster. Thanks for reading and please share and +1 my blog. It really helps me out. Goodnight

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  1. Great post, it was interesting and thoughtful

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  3. Mmmm, I don´t think that lack of communication is the theme of the story...but thank you...

  4. Mmmm, I don´t think that lack of communication is the theme of the story...but thank you...

  5. Is the link you gave the whole story? Does it finish at the phone call? This is killing me..

  6. It makes you think it makes you wonder. The ambiguity leaves a sense of uneasiness. People like completeness, fullness to a narrative a "happy ending" or at least an ending. Carver here reminds us that real life is seldom so tidy.