Discomfort, Irritation, and Confusion of The Bath
People are living robots. They follow the norm. They go with the latest trend. They walk the latest walk and talk the latest talk. Even the "brilliant ideas" that sprout from people's minds are a combination of other people's thoughts and ideas; friends, family and the media are the greatest influences. When a situation that is out of the norm confronts people, they are suddenly caught off guard, and instead of dealing with the situation, they shy away from it in attempt to return to their protective glass case; the norm. Raymond Carver forces his readers to face discomfort, irritation, and confusion through reading "The Bath". His language is dry, and the story is short. The characters do not have names, the language does not flow well, and the ending leaves the reader hanging. The message of the story is vague, and the plot lacks depth; however, the details that this story reveals through the concise language surpasses any detail that "A Small, Good Thing" reveals through its abundance of words.
To begin with, "The Bath" lacks much usage of adverbs. Adverbs typically help describe an action so that the reader better understands either the character or the situation. Clearly, the point of not including adverbs in this short story is to force the reader to focus on what happens instead of how something happens. A short story is "something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing" (Carver 558). A reader should not feel connected with the characters in the story because that is not the author's main concern. An author simply attempts to convey a message through some words in a page that is arranged in a particular order and in a particular way. Carver steers us down a different path of looking at the story by omitting the use of adverbs, the use of propositions as transitions between sentences (i.e. then, after, next), and the lack of character names. Only the "barest information" was included, "nothing that was not necessary" (109). A lack of details most stories provide creates tension and discomfort for the reader because many questions arise in the process of reading this story; however, the awkward feeling is intentionally created.
The plot of "The Bath" is that two parents struggle to deal with the anxiety of not knowing whether their son will live, be in a coma, or die soon; a situation they never thought they would have to face. While the reader deals with the frustration of not completely understanding or following the plot of the story, ironically, the characters in the story face the same situation. As a saying goes, one cannot understand what it is like to be homeless until he is homeless himself. "The Bath" creates an atmosphere of tension for the reader to feel the anxiety of not knowing everything about the current situation, not knowing the people that play an important role in the current...